In the Peru of my childhood, some kids were forced to grow up faster than they should have. You couldn’t afford immaturity or naiveté. The Peru of my childhood didn’t allow you that right of passage, not if you had some wealth and certainly not if you were poor.
My childhood years spent in Peru are unforgettable—the good, the bad, and the unfathomable.
I am an American citizen now, residing in the USA for over fifteen years. Here, we have every basic need answered. Not so in Peru. Although my family—of professors, attorneys and other professionals—was considered upper middle class, I recall some weeks not having electricity; the popular apagones (power blackouts) would go on for days on a monthly basis. There were nights that I had to get my homework done by candlelight—not because we couldn’t afford to pay the bill but because terrorists had intentionally or unintentionally destroyed power sources.
There were times a young (sometimes a child) thief mugged my relatives for an expensive watch or a pair of trendy sneakers. We never struggled for food or clothing but we certainly appreciated it because we were surrounded by true poverty, so we knew that what we had was certainly a luxury even if we lived in a not-so-safe area.
Now I see how Peru has progressed to better and evolving districts, to shopping centers and club scenes— a very cosmopolitan life for many, at least in the major cities. So why bring back the past? Why talk about such sad times that most people bury and prefer to forget or sometimes even deny? Because there are still those countries and individuals that are struggling to get out from under. People who are still fighting terrorism, who can barely get food on their table and sleep with an eye open at night afraid for their lives.
Yet here, we—I—complain about the most ridiculous things.
One day as I stared at my closet full of clothes, I caught myself saying: “I don’t have anything to wear!” How dare I say this? (I wish I had slapped myself.) I take things for granted—from my morning coffee to the safety I enjoy in the USA. I am sometimes that complainer who always expects things to be to my liking, to accommodate me. I tell myself I am not spoiled, that I have earned each thing that I currently have but truth is—I have taken my privilege for granted.
I have decided to celebrate the things I do have, even the silliest of things. I made a list of the things I take for granted and I turned my list into a series of posters, “The Things I Take For Granted” in the hope of reminding myself and inspiring others.
What do you take for granted?