A friend has gotten some good news today. He achieved something toward which he’s been working for months. He DID it!!! You’d think that he’d be bursting with jubiliation. But….. Something not so good happened to someone dear to him yesterday. The dear one will be okay but (having lived through similar situations myself) I’m sure the time was scary, traumatic, infuriating and draining. So my friend has no energy and no desire to celebrate his achievement.
I thought I’d write to him. Should I say be happy for BOTH pieces of news today: your achievement, dear one’s prognosis? Should I scold him for not recognizing his great success? Should I point out that the universe moves in mysterious ways and we rarely see the big picture?
It was that last thought that began to energize me. I wanted to chastise and say: WHAT? Do you think that life is quid pro quo? That good is given with one hand and taken away with the other simultaneously? That presumes all sorts of theology, most of it, imho, with a negative bent. That the world actually cares about us on a microscopic level and maintains an up-to-the-minute ledger. (I am using the phrase “the world” to try to forestall religious debate. We may end up there anyway, but feel free to substitute whatever phrase you like for a deterministic theory.)
I am compelled to say and write that I think the quid pro quo theory of life is simply not so. It is a vain, self-centered, presumptuous outlook on all of us. The universe runs. It exists. It existed before us and may likely be here after us (Again – I’m not getting into the we-are-destroying-the-universe argument. Humor me, okay?)
I can write that. I can argue that. I will say it to YOU. But….. I, too, FEEL that life is quid pro quo. I believe somewhere deep within me that I can bargain with the universe. Yes, that I can negotiate with God. I’ve been arguing with God for years now. It took me a very long time to recognize that a great tragedy in my life actually was a major tool for forging me into what I think is a better person. That’s really not the same thing as saying that sometimes bad happens in exchange for something good happening. It’s merely an observation that we don’t always see the big picture and maybe life IS quid pro quo. But I don’t THINK so.
I know that even as I logically say “things don’t work that way”, I feel that I can offer trade-offs. Or, that if something bad happens, I search for WHY did it happen???? WHY WHY WHY?? Oh – because I was mean? Because I didn’t help? Because because because? You can go nuts doing that. *grin* But I rather doubt I’m the only one.
I don’t have a conclusion here. I don’t know why my feelings are so at odds with my thoughts. I am recognizing that while I think my friend should celebrate, I feel that he needs to be focused on his dear one’s health. And I get that.
Refuah Shlema! A complete healing!