My parents have always told me that being born in Norway is like winning the lottery and although I have always understood the meaning of their words, it’s a hard thing to grasp how exceptionally fortunate I am. I think few people understand how many millions it would take in a lottery winning to equal out what it means to have a home, a bed, food on the table and water to quench your thirst. These are invaluable human rights that so many people have been deprived off. And why? Because it seems they are unlucky people. Pure foolish luck have gotten me where I am today. The reason I grew up in a country where I can always feel safe that someone will look after me and where I have endless opportunities to be and do exactly what I want, was all down to the simple fact of my nationality, something that has always been out of my control.
Why am I not the one who was deformed at birth from toxic chemicals spreading through me caused by a war forty years ago, condemning me to a life as a cripple begging for money to survive from those more fortunate than me?
Why I am not the mother who has to watch helplessly as my child is dying of Malaria and Ebola because I was not fortunate enough to be born in a country where medication can be provided?
Why am I not sleeping on cardboard on the street because I got no job, no money and no one to help me get back on my feet?
Why am I not the one living in fear of my life as well as my family’s because of war between people I don’t even know?
Why? Because I’m lucky, so freakin’ lucky.
The luck is hard to grasp because of the conditions I have grown up in. No matter how much sympathy and empathy you think you might have for people less fortunate than yourself you will never fully understand what it means to live a life full of fear due to conditions that makes everyday a battle. I am not trying to send you into a black hole of guilt, my point being that we think and act according to what we are accustomed to. It works both ways. How can you really know what something is like when you have never experienced it yourself? In that way we all have our own problems, our own concerns and issues in life, what differs is the depth of severity in the situation at hand. That I get pissed off and curse at the sky every time I have a bad internet connection kinda goes bleak and vanishes compared to when say, a provider of a family dies in a mining accident which happened to be the only place he could get work. Or when I swear at how unfair it is when I can’t get time of work to go traveling and use my time on my hobby. Seems pretty trivial compared to kids who have to walk hours everyday just so that they can get clean drinking water. How are we actually doing it? Complaining over issues that in the great scheme of things is not really an issue at all. We do it because we can’t live other peoples life.
It’s fair, it’s true. I can’t sit here thinking about people hurting around the world, being sad all the time because of the unfairness we live in. But maybe I can see the bigger picture a bit more often. Maybe I can start giving more than I’m taking, do something good for someone, sacrifice some of my time or comfort to help those who need it more. Although the world is beautiful it is also so very greedy and people are high on possessions. Those who have a lot always wants more. New things, better things. Everything seems to be moving faster than the speed of light, there’s never any time any more to take a step back and see the real value in life.
This is where traveling is changing me. It helps me reevaluate my luxuries in life. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the more I see, the more I experience I realise that my definition of the word ‘luxury’ is changing, and I would say for the better. What is luxury? It can mean so many different things depending on the person you ask. I thought a good life was dressing in Nike head to toe and having every Apple product out there, which I shamefully almost do. A new car, more money, a big house, LED tv, play station and x-box. Designer bags, expensive make-up and the latest fashions trends. Where does it end, when will it be enough? The real luxuries in life is not a given. Good health, a proper education, family, friends and bare necessities are not an inseparable part of being alive. I see it everyday. Kids who don’t have water, men sleeping on the street outside my house, old women begging for money, the list goes on.
This year of traveling and volunteering has taught me so much about how much I am actually privileged with. I get to do so many things because I want to, not because I have to. Appreciation is key. Appreciate what you got, be humble and respectful of the fortune you are blessed with and know that even the smallest helping hand can make a difference. Being able to give is a luxury in itself. Taking care of each other is a million times more valuable than taking new possessions. I don’t have a paying job, nor a house or a car, but still I am richer than most people and because of that I can make a difference. It is up to us to try and equal out this horrifyingly unequal distribution of wealth that goes on on this planet. It’s in the power of those who grasps the real luxuries of life and understands that luck is the only difference between you and those you can help.
I’d love to hear from others, what is luxury in your opinion?