One of those words that seems to fit almost anyone at some point. I looked up the definition and got some real interesting results, not unexpectedly.
The Free Online Dictionary: Extreme privation; suffering
Thesaurus.com: personal burden
I've been thinking about hardship a lot since the fundraising dinner last week. It has practically taken over my brain. We all have limits of what we seem to be able to endure; or what we THINK is our limit. I am constantly pushing myself; why? I cannot say for sure. I have always been one of those frustrating people that if told "You cannot" make sure that I darn well can. It surely drove my parents crazy. Yet following my amputation, I think that same trait made Dad proud. Mom was gone by then, but I hope she really was that angel I felt on my shoulder. Back to the topic at hand, and why I am obsessing on it. Why do we wait until we lose something, or someone, to appreciate and understand what we have? As a parent I wanted the best for my children. They did not get much of what I wanted for them, in a physical sense. They were up against kids that had a lot; and they were ridiculed. I hated that. I worked long hard shifts at the hospital that included holidays, so that I could get them at least a few of the things that kids hold as status symbols; the video games, the nice shoes, etc. There was not much laughter at our house back then. If there was one thing I could change it would be that. Laughter. A friend has sent me pictures of children from other countries that we see as "true" hardship cases. Yet, looking at those kids, I don't see hardship in their eyes. Yet they have no running water, many have lost numerous family members, food is scarce, and medical care practically non existent (by our standards). Then I look around me. Wherever I go I see people "suffering" around me, and I hear about how bad the economy is, and how many jobs are lost, homes foreclosed upon, businesses dying a quick death. Is their hardship any better or worse?
I have decided that, for me, hardship would be going back to my former life of no laughter. I cannot afford fancy things. I cannot afford to hire someone to fix a leaky sink. I am still paying on medical bills. Yet, I feel incredibly privileged. I live not only where those things are available, but I can find something to laugh about in each of those things. In reality, they are pretty funny; hardship? I think not. At least not yet. I suppose there will come a time when the leaky sink will get so old that I get out the Handyman book and fix the darn thing. It is not a huge deal because I have six other sinks. Now that's funny. What does one person really need with six sinks? (Gee, counting the trailer, I actually have seven...I am beginning to feel embarrassed.)
I wish I could do more for the suffering people in other countries, and in my own backyard. When I started thinking about this I felt angry at my fellow "countrymen/women." How dare they moan and groan. I heard my Mom's voice telling me to eat my peas because "children are starving in Africa." My heart hurts that I cannot give more financially. It saddens me to realize that what I make in one month is more than entire families earn in a year. Or two. Or more. Sadly, those folks in my own backyard that are having to return their leased Lexus, or pound the pavement at 50+ to find a new job, or have to cook at home instead of going out, they are suffering on a grand scale. Each of us has our own scale. Who am I to judge?
For now, until I find another way, I will do my best to find a lighter side to my own hardships. And I will work harder to give away a few smiles and a bit of laughter as I follow this path called "my life."