Two days after the tremendous earthquake in Japan I was watching the news. I don’t actually watch the news that often, but I wanted to see what was happening in Japan and also how the tsunami had affected the California coastline. I had heard that Santa Cruz, just 20 minutes from where I live–had born a greater brunt of the tsunami than some other areas. I can see Santa Cruz and the coastline from my home in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
After the report on Japan,which was horrific, the reporter began to interview people in Santa Cruz. The damage there really was quite minor compared to Japan. A few overturned and submerged boats. Some damaged docks. Yet, I listed to people calling what had happened in Santa Cruz a “disaster.” They were talking about the loss of or damage to their boat as if it were a huge loss.
I sat open eyed and mouth agape. Had they not seen the pictures of houses floating away? Let’s see…house floating away compared to boat floating away? Which seems a bigger loss? Thousands of lives lost compared to a few docks and boats? I have heard of just one death here in California–one person washed out to sea. I heard tell of a whole town washed out to sea in Japan.
So, let’s put things in perspective.
The ability to do that–to put what happens to us into perspective–is a lesson we can all use to learn and implement on a daily basis, not just when a disaster happens. When we feel upset that we don’t have enough money to pay all our bills or to purchase that new shirt we want we need only compare what’s in our bank account to what’s in the pocket of a homeless and jobless person sleeping on the street. When we complain about the ache in our back from working too hard or the pain in our shin from running to far we need only compare these ailments to the man at the corner who lost his leg (or legs) in an accident or the person in hospice care dying of cancer.
Everything is relative. Someone is always worse off than we are.
We need to put our own situation in perspective and feel gratitude for what we have or the situation in which we find ourselves–no matter how bad it seems. Yes, it may feel like your own personal disaster–and maybe it is a disaster. But compare it to something worse–like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Is it still a disaster?
Indeed, what constitutes a disaster lies in the eyes of the beholder. As you behold what lies around you, consider if your disaster truly is a disaster by seeing beyond your immediate world.