But I Can’t Complain | The New Yorker

I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts lately, but I can’t complain. So many people have it so much worse.

Photograph by Thom Lang / Alamy

The fact that my back aches and I hate myself a little is nothing compared to the horrific suffering of practically everyone else on planet Earth. I’ve got it so good in the grand scheme of things. It totally doesn’t matter that, if I’m being honest, my entire body is in agony, and my soul is, too. But it’s nothing. Really. Don’t even worry about it.

What’s a little somatic misery when you have so much privilege? I must acknowledge that I have so, so much. I didn’t earn most of the things in life that I simply take for granted. My amazing job, for instance—I got that from my uncle. He just gave it to me; I wasn’t even qualified. And, sure, it’s a pivotal part of his elaborate scheme to make me take the fall for his decades of white-collar crime, but still—I just can’t believe my good fortune sometimes. Entire economic systems have been built without regard to women’s fundamental needs, and yet little ol’ me is gainfully employed. How could I possibly gripe? The trial is coming up, but I’m sure I’ll be fine.

You know what I believe, deep in my heart? That it’s important to remember all the love you have in your life. I have so much love, I’m constantly reminding myself. My toddler keeps killing our neighbors’ pets and biting me so hard that I bleed—but, hey, I’m an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective, if you ask me. When I’m not cleaning up cat carcasses, I’m simply always bleeding. But I haven’t bled out, ya know? It could always be worse. That’s what I keep muttering to myself over and over and over again.

I’m just so lucky to have what I have. Really, truly blessed. The worst thing I could possibly grumble about is that my husband procrastinates. Small potatoes, right? Everyone procrastinates—big whoop. And it’s just when it comes to getting fire insurance, nothing major. He keeps saying that he’ll do it tomorrow, which I’m sure he will and then—oops, today is tomorrow and our house is on fire. Here I am, watching our precious memories, savings, and probably dog burn to a crisp, and yet I think, Who can blame him? I look at it as an opportunity for a fresh start. Who doesn’t love to sleep under the stars?

Hot tip: whenever you’re feeling down, think about the worst things that could ever happen to a person. It really helps me to imagine the most gruesome monstrosities that humankind has to offer. You can daydream about climate degradation, mass starvation, or the poor, poor bees. Invent a nuclear war every hour in your mind. Imagine things so awful that you’ll experience actual trauma, while sitting in your armchair. Doesn’t it make you feel so much better?

Even though the nuclear war that I envisioned has become a reality, and everything that ever mattered to me has melted into a cataclysmic nightmare, I keep my hope alive. Just a little attitude adjustment and—voilà, bliss. I’m deathly allergic to the thousands of rescue bees stinging me in my bunker right now, but who cares? There are so many people who are so much more allergic than me. And they don’t even have friends who are bees.

I really, truly can’t complain.

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