...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

The Shechter Unfairness Doctrine
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Last night I had one of those moments when I suddenly thought "why did this shit happen to me?" and I was really surprised. I was having trouble getting my legs up onto the bed. Not a huge deal; a 3 on a scale of 10, maybe. An inconvenience. I do go throurgh this from time to time, railing against fate and all that bullshit. It's frustrating being me. I had big plans for my life that didn't happen and that pisses me off. I'd hoped to get a doctorate (in what I'm not sure, but I coulda) and I'd hoped to be published before 30, and as things went on, I hoped I could head an organization that did good things and that I would be known for them.

Didn't happen, won't happen.

I want to travel. I had hoped to see so many places. From the time I was a kid, I was in love with Japan. I wanted to see Greece and the Netherlands and i dunno, maybe Hungary?

Didn't happen, Probably won't happen. Yeah, yeah, you can do that shit in a wheelchair. It's not easy, it requires money. And stamina. And money. And more energy than I have. I'm a woman in my mid-5os and I hurt every day, okay? I'm not John fucking Hockenberry.

And it sucks. And it's not fair.

And then I began thinking about fairness, which has been on my mind of late. Some time back in grad school, in Albany, I had a friend who one day shocked the hell out of me. She had a new boyfriend and he was going home for several days to attend a family wedding as I recall it. And he didn't want her to come. They were fairly new as I recall – no more than a few months but she was terrifically upset about this and whined – really truly whined – "but it's not FAIR!" And I stood there staring at her, mouth open. What was she, seven? What the hell?

I don't remember what I said but I probably lectured her on her attitude OR tried to tell her to let it go, that she would be bored anyway. Or both. Bu the fact that I still remember her voice and her words and her tone – when I can't remember her name – says something.

A few years ago, in a conversation with my doctor, she expressed an opinion that made me think. She said something about how tiresome it was that people expected, expected that they deserved good health. Where was it written that we get to be healthy? And I was going to object and suddenly it hit me, that hey, she had something there. Every expectant parent who is asked "do you want a boy or a girl" tends to answer – don’t they – "we don’t' care, as long is our baby is healthy".

But that doesn't work. There are no guarantees and there is little fairness in the genetic lottery. Yes, of course there are tests you can take to ensure that your child doesn't end up with certain genetic disorders. But no one, and we all want that for you too, no one gets a guarantee. And no, it's not fair.

My dad was an alcoholic. When he died, he was in the program, sober for 15 years. We didn't talk much about the steps, though I knew he worked AA well, sponsoring younger alcoholics, helping them through the hell of getting to sobriety. I was so proud of my dad. One day, we did talk about stuff we hadn't ever discussed. He talked about expectations and disappointment and not measuring up to what was expected of him. How he took a job that he didn't want to take and did not get to do what he had set out to do. And how much of this fed into the assumption he had that it wasn't fair.

And guess what? He said. Guess what he'd learned? That no one, NO ONE, says it's fair. NO ONE. It's not "fair". Life doesn't always give you want you wanted, expected hoped. I never got that PhD dammit, and I would have been SO DAMN GOOD at the prison program I could have run. I have friends with children with small little problems that will probably go away in a few months, and problems that will be with them all their lives.

No one said it would be fair. What a fucking surprise. But it was. It is still a surprise to a lot of us.

I've talked with a lot of people over the years who, like me, deal with pain and disability. In some cases, they rail against fate and the frustration is evident and they can't let go of "but I coulda". Sucks. It does, there's no way out of that. But what I tend to advise/say is that you get to feel sorry for yourself once in a while. Then you get to stop because it accomplishes nothing to whine about how "It's not fair." She never got to the wedding, whereas she never dealt with her limitations and always bitched. My dad retired from the engineering company after THIRTY-NINE YEARS, when he'd hoped for a career in radio. I'm not Queen of the Universe.

One more thing. While other people clearly believe this, bad things are not a way to make good things happen. Bad things happen and they are bad. They are awful and they are hard. If you're of a faith, you might believe that bad things happen so your god can test you. I don't believe that. I think that's awful and terrible and nasty. I don't want to believe in a supreme being who plays games with his creations. I never want to hear "when god closes a door, he opens a window" or whatever that phrase is. Because it's bogus to me. Bad Things Happen. They Are Not Fair. They Are Not Opportunities.

This isn't not to say that losing that job wasn't – eventually, in the long run, good because you got out of that rut. Of course it was. But getting canned hurts and is scary and awful and depressing. It's not time for "whoopee-ding". Some of us can't manage to live our lives as if we believed in motivational posters so let's get past that one, okay? Crappy events are not opportunities. And life isn't fair.

Des this mean I have to give up on the villa in Tuscany? Probably. I'll survive. Just don't tell me it's a learning experience a growth experience or try to cheer me up. It's not fair. I'll live.

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