Good is Better than Fair.”Sick with optimism
If you have siblings, multiple children of your own, or just know people with kids, you are likely aware that youngsters seem forever focused upon what is fair. I have two younger sisters, one a mere thirteen months my junior. It seemed that every birthday or gift-giving occasion she and I would receive the same thing. “That’s not fair!” I would protest, “I had to wait until I was 10 to get a watch, she is only nine!” Or the time I received a bike for graduating elementary school and my sister received the identical bike on the same day (with a year still to go before graduation) I bristled with rage. The fact that I still remember these feelings of rivalry and resentment decades after they happened, speaks volumes to the value that I placed on fairness as a child. I was so concerned about what was fair, I did not appreciate the lovely gifts the way I should have. Thinking back, I was spoiled, and am ashamed of my behaviour: I very often failed to see the good as I focused so hard on my perception of what was fair.
When I became an adult with my own children, I remember speaking to my mother about fairness in light of my own kids’ squabbles. “She got a bigger piece than me!” “Why did he get a toy and I didn’t?” As hard as I tried to be fair, there always seemed to be some disparity to be pointed out. Mom told me that as a parent she believed it was impossible to be fair, because even as adults, her children had different needs and wants so it was impractical and pretty much impossible to give them all the same. I came to understand this concept as equity.
Trying Not to Dwell on Fair
My mom passed-away not too long after our conversation, she was only 61 and had been battling breast cancer for about seventeen years. I know that I spent a lot of time while she was sick and after she died thinking how unfair it all was: her suffering; the years of unpredictability – whether she would be feeling “up” to get-togethers or events. And, what seemed most unfair of all, losing our mom so young, her grandchildren growing up without her, missing important milestone events and so-on. I would often say in the years that followed that my children saved me from dwelling on this unfairness and grief. There was so much good in my life, so much to be grateful for, and the kids just kept me ever so busy!
With time came perspective: At least I had my mom for 38 years… she passed surrounded by her family, we knew we all loved each other, we had said our goodbyes and made peace with the tumults of the past. Slowly, I came to realize that life may not be fair, but that there is still so much good.
When I became seriously ill with scleroderma renal crisis this understanding served me well. I remember as my kidneys rapidly failed (over a period of mere months) discussing my surprise at being that ill with my specialist. “I can’t believe this is happening,” I confided, “I have been the healthiest person I know my whole life!” My doctor nodded her head and sympathized, “It’s just not fair,” she comforted me. I realized my point was not taken as intended and quickly rephrased, “Oh, it is not about fair. There is no fair… look at those kids next door,” I pointed towards the children’s hospital the next building over, “I was healthy for fifty years, what’s happening next door is not fair! I’m just so surprised…” I suppose my years of health had lulled me into a false sense of indestructibility or something.
Good is Better than Fair
I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to be more grateful and enjoy how good life is. After all, fair might have been that the siblings all received no birthday gifts, perhaps then I may have realized that Good is Better than Fair. Unfortunately, at this point the next best option is to forgive my younger self for being childish, what more could you expect from a child? My death-grip on fairness, however, stole away what could have been very happy times even into adulthood.
It has been a wild ride but the fact is, I am grateful for the years of good health, in spite of what has happened to my body lately. I like to think about the good things in my life and count my blessings, as they say. I do my best to be grateful for the parts of me that still function properly and for what I am still able to do. Don’t get me wrong, I moan and groan, A LOT! However, I also make a conscious effort not to get drawn into the “fair/unfair” vortex. This can be a challenge at times, but I feel that for me, ‘fair’ is a black hole that could lead quickly to despair, and I just don’t want to go there.
Would love to know your thoughts on the topic “Good is Better than Fair” – your comments are welcome below.