I always have a few very schizophrenic days when I get back from Afghanistan. In the flight from Dubai to Frankfort, I was setting next to a gentleman named Javier from Spain. He was fit as a whippet and has a very successful life in Kazakhstan. He is married to brainy french woman, has 5 wonderful children and he is financially well off without letting it get the best of him. He had a smile that was genuine and reflected inner happiness. We spoke of excess from eating to shopping to water and heat/air conditioning and how we become indifferent and live a life of decadence without reflection. He called it life of Rome and how it ended that civilization. Then I came to NY and had excess of delivered food and sleep to start my life here.
The first complaint I heard from a loved one was how life is over for him since he feels fat. Then another one complained about how small his doorman "large for NY" apartment is and how he can't take it anymore with (thousands of dollars) FREE packages coming in for his use. Then another one of hating NY life (do we even think about how lucky we are to be able to live in Manhattan????) and another...
It made me think of the families I saw in my trip that live in one room mud huts with not even a proper door or window. The kids I saw that are fashionably thin because they can't find anything to eat in the garbages in Kabul or have no food in the refugee camps in Darfur. Thought of those who work under the hot sun all day and reek and will never see a $45 body wash that we get MESSENGERED to our door for free.
In days like this, I count my blessing and thank my universe for granting me a life filled with contrast and perspective. Yes I want a 5000 square foot loft in Chelsea and yes I want the latest fashion and all the comfort a city like NY has to offer. But I pray that I never get to a point to take it all for granted and only see the terrible side of my much privileged life. God knows I don't deserve a minute of it.
I keep thinking of this old man living next to my guest house in Jalalabad bending over every morning in muddy ground to get water from the well. And he was living in a posh area... This was eye opening when I was taking a hot shower every morning... sometimes twice a day. One of these days I will come to terms with all this.