One thing that becomes painfully clear when I travel is the level of suffering and hardship experienced by many in poorer countries.

In said countries, suffering and loss seem to play a very real part in people’s everyday lives; while in contrast, our lives in modern western countries have had large amounts of this same suffering almost entirely erased. Our comfortable life has made us forget that suffering and loss is an important part of being humans.

People see life as a generally pleasant and fair experience. They take comfort and safety for granted and as a basic right. Whenever the bad things happen we presume that something has gone wrong, someone has made a mistake or we have been wronged by someone. We point fingers and start to look for someone to blame.

Unfortunately life isn’t fair; it can be cruel and at some point we will all have to face suffering and loss. One look at nature can give a view into just how unfair, fragile and brutal life can be at the extreme where there are no laws or ethical guidelines.

In nature, death is a part of everyday life. One moment a gazelle is enjoying his dinner, and the next he is dinner for a lion. Similarly, if the lion does not eat then she and her family will die. Thousands of years ago, human life would have been exposed to the same laws and way of life.

We often think that only the animal kingdom would allow for children to be killed during territory conflicts and for weakness to be preyed upon. We are happy to hear David Attenborough speak about how whole communities are killed by drought and disease and how leaders are overthrown given the slightest sign of weakness.  Shockingly, in extreme circumstances, this is a reality for some people too.

So what does this mean for us? By having less exposure and being less prepared mentally for loss or suffering do we take a harder hit? Being naive to the true nature of life and being less exposed to its realities maybe leaving us open to a greater shock and the potential after effects on our mental and physical well-being.

As we start descending into Heathrow, I often find that looking out over London is the one moment where I see how fortunate I am. I get a better perspective on the ‘problems’ I am faced with in my comfortable life.

If you can afford to travel, maybe take a trip off the beaten track next time and give up the comforts of the 5* beach resort in exchange for something a little more real. It may be briefly uncomfortable, but the fresh perspective could be priceless.

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