It was going to be a relaxing vacation in San Diego, but a stomach bug ravaged the house. It went through three of us in time to make our flight, but the fourth and youngest member of the Morris clan was still a prisoner to his gastrointestinal tract.
There were no long-term consequences from missing the trip. No one died. No one missed a meal (although that’s metaphorically speaking because quite a few meals were missed at the Morris manse during that most uncomfortable week).
Still, we mourned the lost chance to meet with far-flung family at a beautiful location.
My wife, Michaela, worked through her grief in a column, and someone replied with a gift that keeps on giving.
An anonymous caller said Michaela should be ashamed for whining when so many couldn’t feed their babies.
The call wouldn’t have bothered us if there hadn’t been some truth to it. Missing a trip to San Diego is a high-class problem.
It was in February, too – back when the month wasn’t known for 65-degree highs. Sun. Surf. Sea World. The trip would’ve been sweet.
But missing a chance to visit seldom-seen family members is something many can understand. My in-laws have staked out different corners of the country, so it takes real effort to get everyone in the same place.
We Morrises remember that caller, partly because we know things are pretty good for us. Our kids are healthy; we have good relationships with our parents; and barring the occasional stomach bug, we don’t miss meals.
It’s hard to complain when there are people focused solely on finding food for their babies.
But we do complain because this life, as sweet as it is, has its stresses.
On Friday morning, Michaela was worried about a story she had to write that day. But she wasn’t just stressing over a deadline. She also was stressing over her stress: “Why should I feel like this when there are people with real problems, you know?”
That’s when I had an insight that I hope doesn’t come off as self-serving. Then again, take it however you want.
Meeting deadlines as they come around is how we pay the bills. To carry it further, that’s how we feed our babies. If we start missing deadlines, sooner or later, feeding them, taking care of them, seeing to their welfare would become an immediate and scary situation.
The stress is real because it’s about survival, and that’s THE human problem. It becomes a high-class problem only when we lack compassion for others.
Today’s goal is to temporarily relieve the useless stress caused by shame at being stressed, though I doubt the feeling will ever completely disappear because this life isn’t always easy, but it is so good.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.