I just finished reading this WW2-based novel and the most striking lesson I learned was that my life is unbelievably easy. The story chronicled the experience of Australian soldiers held by the Japanese and forced to build the Burma Railway. These men worked long hours under incredibly strenuous conditions until they were liberated, either by the Allied victory or death.
You know why he trusted me?
No, the American airman.
Because he thought my white coat meant I would help him.
My most trying workday thus far was a 10 hour retail shift. I had to wear flip-flops, stand and walk around all day, and smile. My ankles and knees hurt a bit toward the end, and I was glad to return to my spacious, clean, secure, and comfortable housing once I had finished.
I have never been beaten, starved, or systemically mistreated. I have never suffered from lice, ticks, and debilitating tropical diseases. I have never been carried through the jungle to the worksite since I was unable to walk.
In the end all that was left was the heat and the clouds of rain, and insects and birds and animals and vegetation that neither knew nor cared. Humans are only one of many things, and all these things long to live, and the highest form of living is freedom: a man to be a man, a cloud to be a cloud, bamboo to be bamboo.
Richard Flanagan’s book changed my perspective and helped me realize that I have nothing to complain about.