Monday, June 25, 2012

Thoughts on Fairness



A lot of times, I tell myself that things aren't fair. You know, life really isn't fair. Being dealt a shitty hand in life seems completely unfair.

But really, what is fair?

When I was a kid, it was only fair that my siblings and I each received slices of cake that were the same size. It was the only way to know my mother didn't love my brothers or sister more than me. Most children are broken records with things like, "But, that's NOT FAIR!" It seems like the logical thing to say in your small kid brain. Fair is getting the same as everyone else.

But as life moves forward you begin to understand that we won't all get the same sized piece of cake. Someone will always get a bigger piece, and there's nothing you can do about it. Some people will get gourmet cake, others will get day-old stale cake from the clearance aisle at the grocery store. Fairness doesn't count for much in the adult world, it seems.

As children, we assume everything will always be fair---we'll do what we're told, follow all rules, and things will come to us in the manner in which we deserve. That seems fair, right? Adulthood teaches us this concept is a bunch of baloney. Many people will do terrible things to be treated fairly; others will do the right thing and never get a fair shake. It's a tough lesson to learn and it's difficult not to find your heart hardened by the lack of things you feel you deserve.

Being told of all the things wrong with our bodies was the ultimate moment of realizing life just isn't fair. They say there's no good way to give someone bad news, but the medical world is full of people who are really terrible at telling you that things are tragically wrong. It's always so stale and clinical and confusing. Medical terms aren't user friendly and their solutions aren't always clear. It makes you feel like a big idiot with broken insides.

It's strange to go through that type of experience because it involves a lot of unanswered questions, worst-case scenarios, lots of waiting, and then lots of bombs being dropped on your head. The waiting and the worst-case scenario-ing are the worst parts. Because you think of all the worst possible things while waiting to hear the worst possible things from doctors and nurses that are too busy to call you back when they say they will.

I lean toward the worst-case side when waiting to hear news, mostly because I find relief in hearing that things aren't as bad as I thought they would be. When it comes to having children, however, things turned out to be the worst scenario I could conjur up in my head.

It wasn't fair, I told my husband, that people like us--who seemingly did everything right--were given dog feces in lieu of cake. I sometimes wish I could go back to the simplicity of worries over getting a fairly sized piece of dessert; things were easier without grown-up problems filling my brain.

But when I think about that scenario--the pieces of cake--I think about that sense of innocence you feel in those moments. When getting dessert was the most important part of your outlook on life, and you realize that life has a way of hardening you as an adult. You find yourself feeling jaded or broken from the world, rather than carefully watching your mother as she scoops pieces of cake onto small plates.

Life was much simpler when I didn't know my body was broken, I tell myself. But you can't undo these kinds of things; you can't unsee and unhear the things that change everything about your life. Maybe it was easier back then, perhaps it's just as great now that I know the truth.

It's just hard to know what's fair.

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