The other day I posted a tweet where I was complaining at having no heating in the shop; today I posted one saying how badly I am craving chocolate. I did these without thinking, they were flippant passing comments and gave me something to say on twitter - albeit not a very interesting something, but a something none-the-less. It wasn't until I sat down just now, after closing the office door to keep some warmth in - the computers in the office chuck out quite a bit of heat - after I put down my steaming mug of coffee, popped on a pair of gloves so my fingers don't get cold as I type, wrapped a scarf around myself and added another jumper, I realised just how thoughtless and selfish I had been. I'm whining about wanting chocolate (that I can go and buy if I really want to) when there are children elsewhere in this world rummaging for scraps - mouldy ones at that - just so they have some food in their bellies; other's are dying of starvation. While I wrap up warmer and think about how the building I work in should have heating there are people freezing to death in doorways and on park benches; people who are not lucky enough to be able to close doors, add on more layers or just keep dry and warm. I know everyone's story is relevant to them and to me in the world I've been brought up in these things are an inconvenience, but we are all just one bad decision or mistake away from being homeless ourselves. In fact I've been there in the past, although I was lucky enough to have friends who put me up on their sofa's, I never had to sleep on the streets and no matter how tight things have been financially wise at times there has always been some form of food to eat - even if it was just a slice of bread. I've never had to experience true hunger, never been that poor I couldn't afford a jar of coffee (many times I've not had enough for milk but there was always tea and coffee to be had). Things I take for granted every day and issues I see as an inconvenience. To someone freezing or dying of hunger I bet they would gladly trade places with me right now. Nobody knows what life we will be born into, how our lives will pan out or what will become of us all. Today, once again, life has reminded me just how lucky I truly am.
You'd think that knowledge would make me want to stop the fundraising page, or maybe use the money for someone else, but I'm sorry, I am selfish, it was set up for me to travel. I'm not going to stop and I won't be handing any of it over to anyone else. If that makes me a bad person, then so-be-it. There are already organisations out there raising money to help these people. I've given away 2 of my tents (both had only ever been used 3 times). A small gesture I know but to the people who are now able to live under canvas I am sure it made a difference to them. I've handed over my milk money before - when it was the only money I had - to a guy who was sleeping rough at the end of my road (I used it to buy him a hot cup of soup from the cafe nearby). Of course I could do more, we could all do more, yet we either don't have the money to help, or choose not to find the time, we bury our heads in the sand hoping someone else out there will help these people, and there are some pretty selfless people out there who dedicate their lives to helping others; I admire those people. I am also honest enough to admit I am not one of them. I am not in a financial position to be one of them. Who I am is someone that knows how quickly things can change, who knows we only get one shot at this thing we call life and who is doing all I can to make my life the way I want it to be. Yes that makes me selfish, thoughtless and any other derogatory word you can think of to describe me and my actions, but it wont stop me. I plan on keeping at this - the fundraising - until I get exactly what I want, and I will get it. How do I know I will? Because I'm one of the lucky ones.
I haven't always felt lucky. Believe me when I say at one time I considered myself to be extremely unlucky -again, there's the self absorbed streak shining through. When a girl in junior school was smacking my head against a concrete post while her friends cheered her on I didn't feel so lucky. When the same girl wrapped a house brick around my the side of my face, I really didn't feel so lucky. When I developed a bust before other girls at school yet was still forced to do PE in just my underpants (back in the day it wasn't unheard of to be made to do such things) and had to put up with the boys all pointing and the girls bitching, I didn't feel so lucky - I spent most of those lessons with my arms across my chest (the irony being my bust is now no bigger than it was when I was 10). I didn't feel quite so lucky when I was mentally and physically abused in high school for wearing old fashioned clothes (my parents worked all hours just to pay our bills and put food on the table - clothes were a luxury we could not afford so I had secondhand or market stall clothes, my shoes were old fashioned because they were cheaper and lasted longer than the ones my school friends wore). When I was told I would never have children and my fiance at the time decided to go out and get a school girl pregnant, I sure didn't feel lucky - he's also the same one that left me with thousands of pounds worth of debt in my name that I knew nothing about. I never felt lucky when the next one I was got engaged too realised I wasn't joking when I said I had no money so went out and found himself another who did, kicking me out of our home on Xmas Eve. He'd also sold all of my things in the time between me leaving and finding somewhere to live; I went back to get my bits to find there was nothing left and he'd pocketed the money. When the guy I would have ended up married to died I never felt so lucky. When my much loved Dad died I really didn't feel lucky at all. Then one day while feeling extremely sorry for myself my mind flashed back to the day John Campbell first kissed me by the tree at my grandparents house. Boy, did I feel like the cat which got the cream that day (when he dumped me years later by standing me up I felt not quite so lucky, but that first magical night in 1985 I felt like the luckiest girl alive). When I walked away from a car crash in 2005, saw what was left of my car, saw how much crash barrier I'd taken out, saw the 40 tonne lorry which had caused the crash when he hit me not once, but twice, I knew how lucky I was to have got out alive. Of course when it turned out he was foreign and uninsured resulting in the accident costing me money in the end, I didn't feel quite so lucky. When my friend (in a drunken stupor) said he'd lend me the money to start up my own business, that was another lucky moment. The fact that 10 years later I'm still not earning a lot, still haven't paid him back, still work alone and long hours is not so lucky, but I have a job, I have a small wage and that makes me a lot luckier than a lot of other people. My best friend died, I felt blessed to have known her, sad to have lost her (we'd made so many plans for when we were old ladies) but lucky to have had her as such a big part of my life. She shared her kids with me - that was the most selfless act of any person I know. In fact it was her death which started me thinking about how lucky I am. Up until that point I'd tended to dwell on all the negative things which had happened to me, the bad stuff seemed to overtake the good, but I realised I wasn't looking hard enough; there was/is way more good than bad. I'd rather not have had to lose her to realise such a thing. I do't always remember how lucky I am, if I did I would never have posted those 2 comments on twitter but sometimes we need to be a little thoughtless and selfish for life to remind us of what we have got.
Everything I have talked about above is why I am here, why I will still keep plugging away, why I know that people who I have never met will help fund my trip. I know this because I am one of the lucky ones. I really always have been, I just never knew how to focus on the positive and not the negative. Don't get me wrong, I'm only human, I will still have days when I feel like it's all going wrong - even the luckiest person in the world will feel a bit unlucky every now and then - but those moments will be fleeting; life is too short to allow the negative moments to linger.
I am extremely lucky, I will continue to be so.