I’m kind of a dope, I guess, and a bit of a jerk. I hear folks’ stories, I hear tales about lives outside my own experience, and I keep scratching my head in some kind of naive disbelief. I keep wondering why so many humans I think could be universally described as decent, well-intended peoples seem to spend so much of their time getting kicked in the metaphorical balls. Lost loved ones, illness, financial tribulations that are no fault of their own…heaped time and again on one person or family.
It’s not that I don’t know that things happen. I may be naive, but I’m not stupid. I’ve said it here more than once that bad things happen to good people all the time. Heck, I’m writing another book about that very concept. The thing that keeps me enamored with the subject is what happens next, and how people respond to the challenges. I told a friend of mine just last night that I believe it’s the methods of response–the possible outcomes from the adversity–those elements of the human experience are what unite us. I think the ability to choose responses beyond the emotional level is what separates us from the lower vertebrates. That potential is frankly what makes me proud to be a human.
What’s been bothering me so much of late is how unevenly the scales seem to be weighed. You get to know somebody, you get to know their story and it seems to be a text book example of “if it’s not one thing it’s another.” And, you know, that is what it is. That’s just how life rolls. We try to be prepared for anything, but it’s usually something totally off our radar that happens. And it’s not a one-man club. That kind of thing happens to all of us at some time. But I’ve been getting the impression that it happens to some people ALL the time.
No, I’m not omniscient. Yes, I know I can’t expect to see a master plan beyond the realm of my comprehension. I’ve already acknowledged I’m something of a dopey jerk who wallows in naive like a dog can wallow in dead fish. I know it doesn’t smell good. I just can’t help myself. I yearn to see the little guy win.
I used to believe there was a plan. I didn’t need to know what it was, but I had faith it was there, somewhere, put in play by a wiser entity than me. That was enough. I believed in balance. Events that might cause the demise of a culture in one instance would eventually lead to that culture flourishing in the future. Ultimately, things had balance. An even keel. We might be down now, but we’ll be up again. You reap what you sow. Slow and steady wins the race. Endurance is its own reward. Etcetera etcetera…blah blah blah.
Sometimes I wish I would just shut up already.
The balance I believed in seems to be the crux of my naivete´. I want the negative to be evenly spread. I want the positive to go around like oil on a bike chain. Instead, I see a lot of the testicle-kicking. A lot of metaphorical gonad stomping. A lot of good people dead (inside or out), while the spiritually and morally inept flourish. But, like I said, I’m a jerk. I want people to have justice. It doesn’t have to happen on a weekly basis. I mean…I do have a loose grip on reality. But…maybe every decade or so some of the folks who’ve been doubled over–clutching their intestines–maybe they could catch a break. Catch their breath. Get a solid pat on the back . A little tilt of the scales back in their direction.
I know, I know, I know. Who am I to play God? Who am I to say any person or family has suffered enough, or any one else should suffer more? Certainly my Bible never indicated that fairness was a consideration. Some Books forecast quite the opposite. Why would I get to weigh in? I’m no one. If I want justice, I should write happier books.
It is an understatement to say my faith has changed over the years. It’s not because of the challenges I have faced personally. I acknowledge my challenges and the roles I’ve played in them. I’m not writing any of this with myself in mind. Among other folks, I’m thinking about my friend who lost her husband, then her business, then her reproductive system. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. And I think, enough already! When does she get a break? And, if not, why not?
I’m not the first person to ask these questions. I’m pretty sure everyone in the Middle East, in Ireland, in the whole of Eastern Europe, in pre-Apartheid South Africa and all of northern Mexico has asked these at one point or another. I’m sure all the original stewards of North America felt this disillusionment on a level my little mutt brain can’t even fathom. Things happen, and fair isn’t a consideration. If not, why not? Where’s the balance? Where’s the justice?
There are no answers to these questions. Again, naive, but not stupid. Maybe we all need emotional and/or spiritual athletic supporters? Maybe I need to shoehorn my head out of the clouds, or my butt? Maybe I should just start writing happy books?
Except…happy on its own isn’t any more realistic than me wishing for a global distribution of balance. It appears us higher vertebrates are at the very least familiar with digging up and digging out. We see it around us every day. We do it every day. Some do it with more composure than others, but…. It remains our global tie to one another. Art imitates life imitates art.
I don’t know. Maybe I’ll write a book where the heroine isn’t a dopey jerk who daydreams about things going around and coming around. Or, maybe I’ll write a book where balance is struck, if only for a moment, and keels are even. Slow and steady actually crosses the finish line with a smile on its face.
Maybe life will imitate art. Or vice versa…. I’m sorry. I can’t seem to remember which one is fair.