I have First World problems, my problems are fulfillment, not survival. Most of the world’s people don’t have the luxury to worry about whether they’re doing what they’re meant to do and whether it fits that inner person that they are. Most don’t have the option to get too uptight about what they want in life, it’s more about feeding their kids day to day,

I’ve just been reading ” A long way Home” by Saroo Brierley. It’s the true story of a 5 year old Indian boy who boarded a train and woke to find himself in Calcutta. Unable to find his way home he was adopted by an Australian couple. Now in his 30’s, he finally found his first family using Google Earth. Reading about him visiting his mother in a poor district of a small Indian city puts a fascinating light on First World versus Third World lives – this is the life he might have led.

For me, I’ll never forget my couple of days on the island of Amantani in Lake Titicaca, Peru. It wasn’t India but it certainly wasn’t wealthy. I stayed overnight with a family in their simple mud brick home, They had goats and donkeys and grew all their food. The small community had a village hall for parties. There were no cars, no roads, just tracks up the steep hills. They cooked on a wood stove with heavy iron pots. It was cold and very high altitude.

I’ve rarely been so happy, The family were warm, the kids playful. I looked out over the lake from the high hill and vaguely remembered that I was here because I’d been made redundant from my job at a large bank.  In another world people were talking about KPI’s like they mattered, like they were a real thing. From Lake Titicaca it seemed utterly crazy that, with our survival needs met, we would create a world that seems inhuman and cold and very stressful.

Let’s be honest, I wasn’t the one doing the hard physical labour on Amantani. I value my hot showers and reading lights but the experience really did  show me that our actual needs aren’t nearly as great as we might think they are. Food, company, shelter, a beautiful lake and a party in the village hall. That’s all, and that night it was more than enough. I was blessed to be alive.

So I wonder what we’re doing. Do we need to feel that we’re fighting for survival? Do we need to replace that? When we’ve got survival covered do we badly need to replace that striving with another sort of striving? What’s really important? What really needs to be done? One thing I do know is that we need human environments. Returning to Australia it felt cold and clean and sterile and very emotionally distant. No one stopped me to chat. The streets were empty, the cars raced past (quietly and efficiently). It was very strange.

Maybe all this First World angst is a very real need to fight for something that matters. All those choices we have can be confusing. It seems, with all this independence and choice we’re just not very happy. We’ve created artificially stressful conditions to replace the need to survive. We may no longer pray for help to any sort of God. We’re on our own, we’ve got it, we don’t need help. It’s lonely at the top.

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