Looking beyond our ‘first world problems’

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Tonight I sit in a musky, noisy, dirty Boise hotel room which promises a four-star experience on the internet while providing one-star service. I’m feeling sorry for myself. I paid hard-earned money for this discomfort. Looking around my room, I see aged carpet with ripples in the nap, stains on the shower floor, water that struggles to rise above room temperature and lights that flicker and dim at their own discretion.

Looking for solace, I open the sliding glass door which leads to the balcony overlooking the Boise river, which I pay an extra $25.00 a night to experience. Looking left I see dumpsters of garbage which enter my olfactory nerves almost instantly. Coughing and choking at the stench, I look straight ahead at the three busy roads intersecting in front of my room with constant traffic and lights shining directly into my window.

Oh wait; there’s the river, fighting the concrete bridge barriers in hope of remaining free. Constrained and narrowed by urban renewal, the river fights to remain a river. A young boy chases two geese below my balcony and receives a nip in the butt for his trouble. Crying and running back into his main-floor room, I hear his mom threaten to call the motel manager to complain about the “wild attack geese.” Before closing her door, I hear the mom console the child, “I thought geese were nice.” “Not in Boise,” the boy offers with a whimper.

Closing my balcony door, I re-enter my room, pick up my computer, open a new file and write, “First world problems,” the title of my next book. I chuckle at my early dismissal of an unsatisfactory motel room and resolve that if having a less than spectacular room is my biggest problem this week, my life must be pretty great. Changing my mindset, I once again look out my balcony window and notice trees beginning to bloom, grass turning green and a small sparrow chirping on the rail in front of me.

Back in my room, I pull down the cover on my bed and notice the fabric is a high thread count, the pillows are soft, the mattress is comfortable and the light next to the bed is of perfect height to read by. I put on my pajamas, roll into the comfort of this bed and begin to think. So much in my life in the past few weeks has been out of my control. Events and recent tragedy make me believe the world is an evil place that steals the breath of friends I love and the passion of people I respect.

Friends who end their life too early, diseases that decide one’s life must end, life events that capture one’s dreams and snuff them out like a used cigarette hurt my heart. When people are in pain, I hurt. I also struggle to find purpose and joy in my life when the people I love are in pain. Understanding this, I resolve to find beauty in my world when little beauty is available. Taking a deep breath, praying, discovering the world outside my head, feeling the pain and love in my heart make me human. Grief and pain is part of being a person.

Without pain and sorrow, one might never really experience joy. Life is a roller coaster. Hopefully one will have more ups than downs — but even with a life of an inordinate amount of downs, joy can be found.

Rolling back my cover, I slip out of bed, walk back out to the balcony and see the attack geese next to the trail waiting for their next victim. A couple saunter by holding hands and the geese begin to squawk. As the couple approach, the geese gesture, flap their wings and nip at the couple. Laughing and running, the couple escape the attack a few yards past the territorial birds, step off the trail and passionately kiss. Where there once was evil, there is now beauty.

• • •

Send comments or other suggestions to William Rutherford at bprutherford@hotmail.com or visit pensiveparenting.com.

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