While we’ve spent the last four days vacuuming water out of our basement – 48 hours of nonstop humming from four wet-vacs, followed by a brief respite and, thanks to another storm, a reprise – our annoyance doesn’t tell the whole story.
Or, to be more honest, our annoyance tells TOO MUCH of the story.
Our basement didn’t flood. There was no standing water. There was no need to cut away feet of sheet rock or call a cleaning company. Our windows are intact; in fact, outside of some carpet we were planning on replacing someday, we lost nothing of value.
We didn’t lose heirlooms. We didn’t lose furniture. We didn’t lose electronics or hobby cars or pictures or pets. We lost sleep. We lost a little hearing from that damned constant mechanic whir. We lost all hope a few times, our minds worn down and the end nowhere in site, but we always gained it back.
It’s easy to fall back onto the willing arms of first-world bitching, its hands reaching out like some perverted game of trust. See, we vacuumed and we dumped water and we tore out carpet and we washed the smell of quickly molding foam, and – at times – we felt justified in our complaints. We always do, right? What happens to us at THIS MOMENT is the best or worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world.
But we didn’t lose anything we would have missed.
A lot of people did.
In Sioux Falls and Harrisburg, people lost their basements, their things, their sense of security. In New Orleans, people lost their homes and their city. In Darfur, people lose their lives.
All things are relative. We reminded ourselves that every time we felt like falling back into complaint. This was a major flood, and we came away with only a few sleepless nights and an over-reliance on Ridgid and Shop-Vac products. Others weren’t so lucky. Others have decisions much more costly and much more important to make.
And I still have to keep reminding myself. Remind myself to continue working. Remind myself to look forward. Remind myself to keep calm and carry on. Remind myself that things could be worse. Remind myself to let it go. Remind remind remind.