When I opened “The Road Less Travelled” by M. Scott Peck back in 88 or so the first words are “Life is difficult.” and I flung it across the room and yelled, “No KIDDING!” That was NOT what I wanted to hear and thought that any book that started like that was just going to be a downer.
But M. Scott Peck was correct in that life is, indeed, difficult and, I have to add, unfair a lot of the time. When Michael got sick, almost everyone in my life said it was unfair. And to this day (over 3 years since he was first diagnosed) people still tell me it was unfair.
Sometimes I think it is but I try to stay away from those thoughts. I stopped expecting fairness a long time ago. John James says that we grow up with a Christmas mentality: be good and you’ll get gifts. And when we’re good and horrible things happen, we feel cheated and pained and can’t deal with loss or grief. Our first instinct is to yell: I DON’T DESERVE THIS!!!!! And we probably don’t.
The best we can do is bring as many great things into our own life while not settling for less than we deserve. We can accept that life is unfair and bad things happen to good people. The best we can do is surround ourselves with people who know that love is an action while doing our own work so that we are not crushed when unfair things happen. In other words ACCEPT THE THINGS WE CANNOT CHANGE (life is unfair, bad things happen) and CHANGE THE THINGS WE CAN (demand the very best in any situation, control who we allow in our lives and refuse to deal with those who don’t deserve us).
Michael’s sense of unfairness came from going to radiation and chemotherapy and meeting kids there. He always said, “I’m 57 years old. I’ve lived a good life. These kids should be out playing.” He never once felt sorry for himself. It was about these kids, that young mother, that man. He hated cancer treatment all on their behalf. When he was sick the treatments made him bored and restless. He could not imagine being a young kid and having to be so confined. For him unfairness was on a scale. To me it was unfair that such a wonderful man, an honorable man, a beautiful person, was taken from the world. It was unfair that I waited so long to find someone who cared for me deeply and completely and I was losing him. I’m sure that Michael felt it was unfair to me and I know he was grateful for my love and my care of him, but the bottom line for him was that the unfairness was about the young children and and the young parents.
While everyone feels their pain at 100 percent and there is no sense in comparing this loss to that loss, there are definitely degrees of unfairness. There are losses and deaths that make no sense at all. Drunk drivers take out innocent victims every single day. People are given terminal diagnoses every single day. Horrible and terrible accidents occur that no one can predict. Children die and parents with young children die. It’s all unfair.
Many unfair things have happened to me and the wail “But I’ve been so gooooooooooooood.” has only made it worse. It’s an expectation I no longer have. And that makes it easier. If you’re wailing that life is not fair, you might want to think about giving that up. There are so many people in this world who have horrific things happen. Saying it’s unfair isn’t helping anyone. Unfair on what measurement? Unfair compared to what? To your neighbor who lives across the street and just got a new car or to the mother in a third world country watching her child die of starvation?
Secondly, fairness is in the eyes of the beholder. Even if I think that my life has been harder and more unfair than most I know, I do know that many times when it was more than fair in my favor. My son was brutally assaulted in 2002 and lived when they thought he would die. Other parents have lost children with less severe injuries. Do they think it’s fair? Probably not. Fairness has worked out for me on both ends of the spectrum. My unfair lot today is somehow balanced by other times when it was more than fair. If I tallied it all up, would it work out? I don’t know, but I’m not going there today or any other day. It’s a tally I don’t need to know.
The third thing is that I am grateful for what I’ve had for as long as I’ve had it. Many other people never turn their lives around. Many other people who are addicted to abusive and horrible people never get out. People die in abusive relationships every day. People stay in abusive relationships because they are afraid to leave.
I got out and got help and got better, and I cobbled together a wonderful life. I’ve made all my dreams come true. I know that from the day I left my first marriage, nothing will ever ever ever be that bad again. When I left that marriage, I was helpless and hopeless. It was the darkest time of my life but I have built a wonderful life and a strong foundation despite it all. A lot of people are unwilling or unable to get to here from there.
I am far from the picture of serenity or serene acceptance. I do have moments where I mentally kick and scream. I do cry and sometimes get angry that I am crying. I do rail at the universe and life and love and everything in between. I am not Mother Teresa.
But whining and wailing and kicking and screaming 24/7 is not going to help me at all. What is going to help is to know that fairness has nothing to do with anything and that love is the only thing that matters. Love is an action and love makes everything else easier.
We can’t expect fairness and we can’t expect positive outcomes to all of our dilemmas. The most we can do with what we are given (whether it’s good, bad or indifferent) is to do our work and be the best person we can be surrounded by the best people we can surround ourselves with.
Life is inherently unfair. It’s a tough road a lot of the times. Whining about losing people who mistreat you just makes life harder. Why make it harder? Why torture yourself mentally and emotionally? Why add to the burden that life can be all on its own? Why be so unfair to yourself when you have to deal with the basic unfairness of life that cannot be prevented? You can prevent the unfairness and mistreatment you do to yourself and allow others to do. You can’t prevent the horrific stories, the deaths, the accidents, the sick children and dying parents. You can’t do a damn thing about any of that. But you can be good to yourself and surround yourself with good people to help buffer against the wind.
Kick the bananaheads to the curb. Surround yourself ONLY with loving people. Share your wisdom when you find it…pass it on to someone who needs to know what you have learned. Do your work and talk to others who are doing theirs. Be good to you. Hold yourself up to the highest standards and insist that everyone treat you well but most of all: YOU TREAT YOU WELL. And life–this brief journey of ours–unfair as it is sometimes, will be better than your wildest dreams.
The road is hard, life is difficult and unfair but love, REAL LOVE, LOVE IS AN ACTION LOVE, softens it and the good moments are so worth it. Don’t waste your time (and life!) on those who do not know that love is an action and you are the best thing since the folded napkin. Surround yourself with those who can soften your journey…become a person who softens the journey for others including, most importantly, yourself.
Life is, indeed, unfair. But the last thing that should make it unfair is your treatment of you.
Do your work. Don’t wallow in self-pity but don’t attack yourself emotionally and mentally with negative self-talk or contacting people who have no use for you. Balance your life with knowledge that life is unfair but other people have it worse than you but you don’t have to make it harder on yourself with negative self-talk and contact with unloving bananaheads.
Turn it around. Make your life the best that it can be and a shelter from the storm that is life. Don’t make things worse for yourself.
Life is not fair but you can be fair to yourself. Start today and give yourself the love and fairness you truly deserve.