By Khea Pollard
ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR
“He discovered the cruel paradox by which we always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love – first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage” – Camus
Within context, this excerpt from Camus’ “A Happy Death” reminds me of the human tendency to be unappreciative. In a moment of existential thought, protagonist Patrick Mersault realizes he’s placed too much importance on vanity and pride, revealing his own complacency in his romantic relationship.
The things we take for granted in life are plentiful. From friends and family we neglect to see for months on end, to the material objects we own. The saying “first world problems” is born of complaints about the smallest things in life we should be grateful to have in the first place. This phrase is comical at best and absolutely idicative of our position of privilege at worst.
We complain about how unremarkable the new Apple iPhone 5S is.Talk about how Siri is still so incompetent. We forget that there are people in the poorest of countries that can work an entire year and still not afford to purchase an iPhone.
I was convinced, and still am, for the past few months that I absolutely need to buy a new cellphone with a front facing camera. How else will I take selfies with ease?
In the search of the latest and the greatest, I am ignoring the fact that my cellphone is functional, as is. All the bells and whistles the newest technology boasts will have me forgetting life existed pre-Apple.
My father’s family in Pittsburgh hasn’t seen me since I was very young. Sometimes I wonder if they remember what I used to look like in great detail, if they’ll recognize me when they see me, or if I’ll recognize them.
I receive the occassional phone call from an older relative. When this happens I am always at a loss for words beyond ‘Hello how are you’. I know nothing of their present or their past and quite frankly, we probably have nothing in common.
For years I was satisfied with excuses for not seeing them. Time, opportunity and financial freedom were always to blame. In actuality, five plus years is ample time for travel preparation. As an adult, “too busy” is no longer an applicable excuse. The easiest way to mitigate the awkward phone silene would be to create new memories as a familial unit.
I probably won’t recognize them when I see them. We will have to be reintroduced as strangers but I welcome this. Even though so much time has elapsed, I feel fortunate to have people all the way across the country that care for me.
Inwardly I acknowlege the need to appreciate what I have. Now it’s more about taking action and not allowing myself to become complacent in these relationships. These people won’t be around indefinitely so I should try my best to connect while there is still opportunity.
It’s easy to forget that love isn’t free, it’s earned; with the exception of our parental relationships. In this case, we love yet sometimes we don’t say it enough. We imagine our folks as pillars holding us up when we need them and at times our pride allows us to shrink in embarrassment of them.
Thinking of people twice, the second time to their disadvantage. Material things are nice to have. Fancy technological adaptations are becoming more and more “necessary” to access information we use daily. Once upon a time humans persevered without turn by turn navigation and Weight Watcher apps.
I won’t deny that my daily activities are a lot easier with these advances in technology.
Siri is amazingly convenient and I still want a front facing camera. But easier does not always equal better. Just remember to identify your luxuries. Then, appreciate them as such.