When you are home a lot, you discover that the relationships of the kids on a neighborhood street can rival the drama of corporate politics. Yesterday’s drama on our street was triggered by a battle over whose turn it was to play with the wagon shared by a set of three siblings, all under the age of seven. When I could decipher the shrieks, it became clear that one sibling had put dibs on the wagon unknown to another, who took it and began racing up and down our sidewalk. Parental intervention was sought desperately to determine whether dibs had, in fact, been placed appropriately. Being in one of those self-pitying funks that come on with some regularity these days, I thought, remember when the biggest problem we had was figuring out whose turn it was to play with the wagon?, and yanked a few more weeds.
A bit later, I was reading the news about the floods in Pakistan and fires outside of Moscow. Somewhere in a flood shelter, or in the burned wreckage of a home, I thought, a woman is standing and thinking to herself, remember when the biggest problem we had was feeling like a failure?