We take a lot of things for granted, the biggest of which I’d argue are the circumstances into which we are born into. Where we are born; when we are born; the community we are born into. To be fair, it’s not a natural thing to do. We are often taught not to worry about things we cannot change. For most things, that is the sensible approach, but it can nevertheless be a fun and useful mental exercise.
If the last few months have been anything to go by, where we are born determines a large part the quality of life we are likely to have. The fact that I was born in Indonesia has only strengthened my gratitude for now residing in New Zealand. This feeling is particularly pronounced in light of the pandemic. There is a clear dichotomy in the world, and it can be split easily between everyone in New Zealand or Taiwan or Iceland vs. anywhere else in the world. The pandemic is an afterthought in day-to-day life. I do not take for granted how much of a privilege it is to be able to live like this.
When we are born offers an even more interesting proposition. The thought of being born anytime but the present is honestly a terrifying thought. My mind jumps to the level of medicinal knowledge, or lack thereof even 50 years ago. If you got sick, you are basically a goner. Not to mention the arcane and torture-like treatments that doctors used through history. While there is no silver bullet today, it is much more reassuring to know that most people will have a fighting chance if they show symptoms of something.
If anything, going through this exercise complements any kind of gratitude practice. It offers a different lens through which to reflect on things, one that is a little out of the box.