Lest we get too absorbed in the endlessness of the pandemic, let’s talk about the mom and three kids – a teenager and two little ones – who have been living in a hotel room for the past five months after camping out on a patch of concrete in a parking lot for a couple of weeks last summer. They moved into an apartment today. It has bedrooms and a kitchen, a living room and a roof, a bathroom, and a front door that locks.
During all this time, living on the concrete in a parking lot and then in a hotel room, the mom has been working. The teenager has been ‘going to school’ such as it is right now, all online in our city, and supervising the school attendance of the two younger ones while mom keeps working. Meanwhile, the pandemic has raged, making every little function of the day harder. For a while, there could be no more than ten people on a bus. So everything has been a hundred times harder than being homeless and living on the concrete and then in a hotel room for five months would normally be.
This makes me remember, not that I am lucky, but that I am a brat. With my house and my cars and my bank account and my internet and my companion and my health and my worries.
My brother is in a nursing home in a room by himself. He sees his family on Zoom. He is probably watching TV, I hope he is, and I’ve been told that the nurses will bring him a glass of red wine now and then. But he is alone in his bed. If he wanted to go somewhere, he couldn’t. He is too weak to go on his own and no one is allowed in to take him. So he is stuck – on his own patch of concrete as it were. It is no one’s fault, it’s just what has happened.
Today, a Facebook friend posted a meme with the message: Comparison is the Thief of Joy. I have long thought this to be true. Envying people who were happier, whose houses glowed warm in the winter, who had the secrets of perfection which they refused to share, yes, I compared myself to them. And I came up wanting. As in lacking, but also as in longing.
Comparison is a dark room with a trap door. You will never feel better by comparing yourself to others. Although sometimes, you might feel humbled. Now might be one of those times.