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Life, not fair

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We teach children that what happens to them will not always be fair, but it takes a person as old as I am to realize that things are never fair, not does it “all come out in the wash,” which is another saying we use to indicate that when all is known things will be squared up.

Life’s events are more like a swinging pendulum than a carefully balanced scale. I once ran a red light right in front of a police officer; but when I promptly pulled over, he didn’t arrest me; he just said, “Be more careful in the future.” That day my pendulum swung to the “good luck” side of the equation. That was good for me, but hardly fair to all the other people who have received tickets for running that same red light both before and since.

On the other hand, plenty of people have extremely bad luck on one or more occasions when the pendulum swings far over to the other side. Taking this to the extreme, consider this event that happened in my home town in the early 1960’s. About half a dozen cars were crossing our river bridge one day when it suddenly collapsed—just like that. A bridge that had stood for fifty years collapsed at the very moment those half dozen cars were driving across. But were the drivers unlucky people? Maybe not. No one was killed, so perhaps instead of being extraordinarily unlucky they were extraordinarily lucky; or perhaps they were both unlucky and lucky in rapid succession, a fact that fits my original premise. Life is never fair, nor is it balanced. Most events lean one way or the other.

The only balanced events in our lives are the non-events. When nothing happens, we’re in status neutral which is the closest thing to perfect balance life ever offers.

I believe it is useful to think about the changing nature of our fortunes because of our old friend, “hope” My pendulum has lately swung almost exclusively to the “bad luck” side. I have been weighed down and nearly overcome by ongoing misfortune. Nevertheless, from a lifetime of observance, I can be assured the pendulum will swing the other way sometime in the future. That’s a very comforting thought.

Elizabeth Ruth

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