I have been fortunate all my life. The major problems I have had to face were of my own creation. In a life as blessed as that, you trip over the small things. Your mood can shift with the prevailing wind.
Small things can even call into question big decisions when they have nothing to do with each other. But a fearful or anxious person is always second-guessing himself anyway, so it should be no surprise that a catastrophe of minor proportions can distort the value of a choice of major benefit.
And yet, here I go.
It's all a matter of perspective. I gain my perspective through grousing, then carefully examining the grouse.
Perspective came yesterday when the water heater seemed unwilling to reliquish any hot water. I know nothing about water heaters except that they make huge messes when they fail. In this case, the water was going through the machinery but coming out warm, then tepid, then barely warm at all. First thought: broken, needs replacing, OMG where am I going to find $500?
I realized, I have no reserve. There is gas in the tank but no auxiliary. There is electric flowing through the house but no back up generator (not that I'd want one; they're smelly and a bit dangerous unless you have an electric one, and then what's the point?). If the car breaks down, I can't fix it. If my glasses break, I can't replace them. In other words, I found myself looking at a stark reality that if anything unexpected happens, I'm up the proverbial creek without a canoe, let alone a paddle.
I have company coming over from the Netherlands in a few weeks. I have a wedding to go to in Portland at the end of the month. There are things to do, places to go, people to see. And the reserve is empty.
It sounds like griping, and it is, but there is another point: hot water is a luxury, not an expectation. In fact, running water within the walls of a house is a luxury most human beings do not enjoy. Things that I take for granted are things that would mark me as a rich man in other parts of the world, and even in some parts of the United States.
The song goes, if I were a rich man, implying, let me have a rich man's problems to deal with, but the reality is that I have problems that most people would love to have. And, thank God for the owner's manual and a wife patient enough to wade through it -- the reset button on the water heater was much easier to find than we expected.
The winds did change.