Life is not fair. After contemplating
the inequities of life, my clients often find themselves
speechless when I ask them, "Who told you life
would be fair?" It is not! It is random serendipity,
without an ounce of rhyme or reason as to whom good
or bad things happen to, or, when or why they happen.
Life is not selective. Life just happens. And, it happens
to all of us.
The fact that it is not fair does not mean that we should not do everything in
our power to create what is good for ourselves. We may decide to lead in the
dance of life and make a positive decisions and contributions to the quality
of our lives by choosing not to abuse substance, not to smoke, not to continue
with inappropriate lovers or not to set ourselves up for failure in ill-chosen
careers. But, the bottom line is that you may still find a kink in all of your
best laid plans. Sometimes even the healthiest, most conscious people get cancer
or other illnesses. People who may be financially astute can not control whether
their bank goes under. You have no control over who might decide to run a red
light. Bad things happen to good people even when all your ducks are in a row
and all your bases are covered. Companies close, banks fail and friends leave.
Cars break down, markets fluctuate and your favorite pair of slippers will wear
out. One of the great things about surrendering to the reality that life is not
fair, is that it gets us out of our judgments about other people and allows us
to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Once you get that you have almost no control
over unforeseen happenings, you can get on with the business of responding to
life in the best way that you know how. That is, after all, the only place we
can have control - in our response to what life offers us.
The paradox of letting go is that the moment you do, you usually receive exactly
what you were seeking in the first place or something even better. Even in the
face of great challenge there are always gifts. Helen Keller said, "Character
cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and
suffering can a soul be strengthened, vision cleared and success achieved." Einstein
said, "The greatest spirits choose the greatest challenges."
The willingness to be in emotional discomfort, have ego attachments shattered
and stand in the face of fear is, indeed, what creates the depth of our character.
In the center of these circumstances we find our integrity, our ability to be
honest, our sense of fairness, our level of need to control and manipulate. We
find how and what we are willing to compromise and what we are not. Haven't you
known people who are not willing to tolerate an ounce of discomfort? Are those
people the kind of folks you would trust? I doubt it. They lack character and
spend their lives manipulating others to get their own needs met in order to
keep the status quo. Comfort is their highest priority. Not growth. Not character.
Neither growth nor character evolve from comfort.
After a while of standing in the fire of adversity, you learn that you have the
strength of spirit to over come what life hands you. You learn that there is
value in having to stand alone and that your security is not in having company
but rather in having clarity. You begin to learn that change is constant and
when you find you are still standing after all those things you thought you could
not live without have left -- you know you will always endure because of the
strength of your own soul. You stop waiting for someone to do it for you and
you step forward to do it for yourself. You begin to accept what you used to
call your failures as great teachings, lessons you needed to learn in order to
go forward more solidly and with fewer mistakes next time. You learn that too
much of anything, even the good stuff, is still too much. You learn that not
having enough of what your soul needs is not spiritual or sacred. You learn you
are not what your friends or families think of you. You are not your company
or your job. You learn that you are not your houses, your cars, your credit ratings,
or even your own bodies. You have worth and value and you are first and foremost,
love. You are a great work in process and as Einstein would say, you are "an
incredibly courageous spirit."