When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a local high school production of Robert Fulghum’s classic, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” In it are some of the most simple yet profound insights into humanity and, if you haven’t had the opportunity to read it, I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy.
One such segment is called “Problem or Inconvenience?” The story begins with Fulghum as a young man, unloading his outrage at what he considers poor working conditions on a coworker late one evening. His coworker is an older man named Sigmund Wollman, a German Jew and survivor of Auschwitz. After listening to the younger man rant for the better part of half an hour, Sigmund offers up this insight:
“Fulghum, you think you know everything, but you don’t know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer. And will not annoy people like me so much. Good night.”
These words resonate with me when the power goes out, when my internet is slow, when I’m trying to come up with the next chapter of my latest novel, and even when I am sitting with my accountant preparing my tax returns. Sigmund’s words are ones that I find worth remembering – life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy.
Despite this, life is a blessing and an amazing journey to behold. When those difficult times arise, and they always will, it’s important to take a moment to determine if what you are facing is a problem or an inconvenience. If you do, you may live longer. If you do, you may realize what a good life it is.