Mark Terry

Friday, May 11, 2012

First-World Problems

May 11, 2012
Every morning I take my dog Frodo for a walk. Often I'm stewing about something. Usually it's a minor something. One of the things I often argue with myself about is whether to quit running and spend more time practicing Sanchin-Ryu. I split my exercise activities between running, biking, lifting weights, and Sanchin-Ryu karate. Over the last year or so I have increased the time spent on Sanchin-Ryu.

I just muddle along. As I commented to my wife, as we ran together this morning with the dog, I've been quitting running for about 20 years.

What I typically say to myself to end this little internal debate is, "First-world problems, Mark."

Which is to say, if the biggest problem in my life is deciding what type of exercise to do, I don't really have any problems. Certainly not problems like people living in Sudan or Syria, or even people closer to home who are fighting health problems, serious financial issues, or other problems.

I'm currently arguing with myself about a client that basically wants me to come on almost full-time as a contract editor. It would change my business significantly. But maybe not that much. It would solve a lot of headaches. It would probably create a few.

People who've followed my blog for a while probably remember I faced a similar situation several years ago and quit after about two weeks. I don't think that would happen this time. I'm in a different place in my career, a different place in my life, and I like this client far more than I liked that client.

Again, that's a pretty rough situation to find yourself in, isn't it? Keep going along the way you are, happy in your job, making enough money (whatever "enough" is), or have someone want to pay you a good sum of money to pretty much do the same thing, keep working out of your house, have a flexible schedule, still be able to freelance some. Talk about a first-world problem.

Many days, when I walk through the neighborhood, where I have lived almost 16 years, as I'm having these types of arguments, I will look at one house and remember that Lisa died of breast cancer in her 40s; at another house, where their 13-year-old son committed suicide this year; at the house across the street where Louie died of a heart attack in his 60s; of a house down the street where he died of a heart attack in his 40s; of the divorces and deaths and layoffs and foreclosures.

It makes my neighborhood sound like a disaster area, but it's not. It's just a typical suburban subdivision with about 300 houses or so. I know a fair amount about the good things, too, the birthdays, weddings, celebrations, vacations, etc. Bunch of middle-class to upper-middle-class (whatever those are these days) people going about their lives.

And I generally realize that I don't have much to complain about. And I'm grateful. Very.


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

That's a fantastic attitude. I try to look at things that way, without always succeeding, and I wish a lot more people would. It is incredibly irritating to hear people who are healthy and financially well off and who have not suffered personal tragedies bewail how their lives are not what they should be, not what they expected, not what they deserve, not perfect. (Yeah, I have heard some of that lately) They should have the chance to walk in the shoes of many, many others less fortunate than they.

One of our neighbors fought off cancer, then their 21 year old grandson who lived with them died of a heart attack. The next house over, the owner killed himself. Our other neighbor died of a heart attack at 46. The fellow who moved in next, using it as a summer get-away, lost his wife when she left their home a couple Januaries ago and as far as anyone knows walked into the ocean.

That business opportunity sounds tempting. As long as you maintain your independence from typical job-related crap. Even working for oneself there is no independence from needing to get work done on time. In fact, that's probably even more vital and unalterable than it is while working a regular job.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I don't suppose I always have the "attitude of gratitude," but I do work toward it.

11:12 AM  

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