Friday, May 1, 2015

Fair Weather Life

Life is grand. Enjoy it. That's the way I look at it anyway, but I still find myself using the phrase "life ain't always fair" with my girls from time to time. I use it as an easy way to end an argument with my eldest daughter. Unfortunately, it's barely a step better than responding to her "why" questions with my "because" answers. Even worse, I don't even agree with or like the phrase "life ain't always fair."

More often than not, life is actually pretty just doesn't always appear that way because we don't always get what we want. A lot of this life ain't fair mentality comes from our own natural tendency to think we should be able to have everything we want. It's the American dream right? Wrong. There's a huge difference between having the freedom and ability to work hard and do well for yourself (the real American dream) and having everything handed to you on a platter (confused for the American dream, but actually a self destructive pipe dream).

One of my favorite examples of the reality behind not getting everything you ask for was in the movie Bruce Almighty. I'm actually a little surprised to be using a logical example from a Jim Carrey movie, but please bear with me. In the movie, he was granted all the powers of God. Part of that included answering prayers. Being overrun with requests, he decided to say "yes" to all prayer requests. One of the outcomes of that was having every single person who purchased a lottery ticket win. That's fair right? Everybody wins. Or was it really unfair because that means everyone won less than $10 rather than one person winning millions? Sure you didn't lose any money, but without anybody winning big there's no fun in it.

"Fairness" is in the eye of the beholder. It's also a balance between making sure you are getting what you truly deserve and being greedy. Our nature makes us constantly want more than we have, or even worse, think we always deserve it. That is what may appear to be the American dream - living just outside our means and letting credit make up for what it takes to make life "fair" for us.

Sometimes an idea of what is unfair really gets out of hand. You can't turn on the news right now without seeing "unfairness" against someone being protested with violence, looting and destruction. That's fair right? Someone I don't know wasn't treated in a manner I think is fair, so I'm going to steal or destroy the property of some completely innocent, and unrelated, person or business. That's pathetic and I think it's unfair that more of those people aren't being held accountable for their actions, but I know that's the way it is and I can't always have everything the way I want it.

Believe it or not, I had no intention of rambling on about our misguided view of the American dream or what we think we deserve. This line of thought started because my daughter has been throwing fits whenever she doesn't win whatever game we're playing. It has consistently gotten worse in the past few weeks and is therefore often in my thoughts. To be honest, I should be the one playing the "it's no fair" card because my 6 year old beats me in 75% of the games we play, but I won't do that. I'm not a whiner. I'm a grown man who is fully capable of dealing with it. Most importantly, I realize that it's perfectly fair on all counts. Her young brain is like a sponge, so I would be concerned if she didn't clobber me in every game of Memory we played. More importantly, I was a horrible loser when I was her age, so having to deal with the same thing with my daughter is completely fair in my book.

As I am starting to get drowsy at the "late" hour of 9 pm on a Friday night, I am reminded about another thing that is technically fair, but only because I know I put my folks through the same thing when I was a child. My wife and I spend Monday through Friday dragging our girls out of bed each morning in an attempt to not be late EVERY day of the week. Knowing that, why are they ALWAYS up before 6 am on a Saturday morning? The one day of the week they could actually sleep in, they are ready to go before the sun. Oh well. It just means I can get started on my honey-do list that much sooner I guess. Until next time....