First world problems

I keep trying to remind myself that the things I worry about are largely a luxury, fillers in a life that has always been entirely devoid of the effects of civil war, hunger or poverty – not that I  think it’s particularly helpful to suggest that everyone’s problems are all trivial just because they have a roof over their heads, all their limbs and a horseburger for dinner. There are still plenty of very bad experiences to be had that leave everyone very much alive and aware of them.

Still, sometimes you come across opinions of such gobsmacking self-pity that you can’t help thinking maybe people should travel to places that are less privileged a bit more. An anonymous blogger on AOL (Huffington Post brand) has written about the great disappointment of discovering that he and his wife are expecting twins, which were the result of IVF treatment. He describes how annoying babies are, how little sleep he got with the last one, the colic, the negative effect it will have on his marriage – and yet they spent $10,000 on bringing it about.

Being a twin myself, it particularly irritated me, perhaps because my parents seemed to successfully pursue the benign neglect approach to bringing us up. My anthropologist parents took us on some research trip to Afghanistan when we were 6 months old. It apparently had lots of amusing side effects, like tapeworm and bronchiolitis. Still, it meant that we were by necessity breastfed for nearly a year. The purpose of the trip seemed to be to hang out with the nomad tribes for a year or so, as you do. My dad obviously thought this was all a great adventure, still regaling us with stories of negotiating with armed bandits, learning to ride horses without a saddle, the beauty of the plains, and growing a massive beard. My mother’s tales are rather different, as she only socialised, for obvious reasons, with the women. They were resentful and jealous, telling her or at any rate her translator (I’m not sure she spoke fluent Pashtun) that she was selfish having two healthy children when all of theirs had died, no doubt of easily treatable infections.

The guy with the IVF twins just needs to go somewhere a little less cosy than New York, I’m sure he’ll soon find that a bit of broken sleep is not exactly the end of the world.

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