Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


I tend to agree with late 19th century fictional American philosopher William Munny, who said "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

Seems to me nothing we are and nothing we can do makes us deserve another human being - whether we're talking offspring, or soulmate. The best we can hope for is a chance to luck into; the best we can do is justice to the chance that comes.

Every person and every relationship in my life, bonded to me by blood or by love - honestly, I lucked the fuck out as far as I'm concerned. I hope I have the gratitude and humility necessary to make good on the chances I've been given, which I do not and could never have deserved.

Of course, I can see why we might want to criticize parents (or lovers, or spouses) who have done a terrible, grossly negligent job. Who shat on the chance they lucked into - the chance to be possibly, the most important person in another human being's life.

But that's not saying the rest of us, or any of us, deserve such a chance. It can't help us to treat such chances as if they were based on merit, or entitlement. Anyone who gets a chance like that is damn lucky. Anyone who gets that chance should be grateful for the opportunity to prove they can do right by the person who now depends on them. Ultimately, to have a child, or to have a love, is to hold a sacred trust. Such a trust as that can never be deserved. It can only be earned.

Just being here on Earth is a chance we cannot claim we deserved. None of us (as individuals, at least) deserved at all to be born. Our unique DNA was the result of some one damn sperm out of thousands, beating his ballmates to the finish line in a mad scramble. Any of us could have easily been edged out, by some other individual - a completely separate, distinct individual. Someone to whom the individual we actually are would stand in a relation far more like sibling than self. Which is only one of the billions of accidents that led to any of us being here!

No person can claim they deserved to be here. Those of us who happen to show up, best we can do is try to use the life we have to earn our hold on the place we carved out for our life, and on the trusts which we have been lucky enough to be given. Best we can do is justice to the chances we undeservedly got. As noted Kiwi rabble-rouser Dave Dobbyn put it, "You pay for your life with your life."


Anonymous said...

I've read this twice. I think I will read it again. Thank you.

Jen said...

Awesome. Thank you for the reminder. You are absolutely right, except of course in cases of abusive spouses/parents/lovers, in which case, you don't deserve that either, and just get outta there.

Your comments about how lucky we are to exist remind me of G.K. Chesterton. It is wise, but it is the opposite of my instinctive reaction, which is that if something isn't perfect, it isn't worth the time.

dogimo said...

Goodness! Can you find enough perfect things to occupy your time?

Jen said...

Nah, yah hafta stay with the imperfect things, because ... where else are ya gonna go?

dogimo said...

I just realized which quote you meant (I think!) from Chesterton - "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."

Was that the one? I think it may be almost the opposite of what you said, as you said.

Jen said...

Well, that one is good too. But the passage that I was thinking of ran something like this:

"I have always considered this world an amazing, fantastic place, just like Fairyland. And I have always thought that to be in it was an immense privilege, just like it would be if we found a portal to Fairyland. And I have always thought that this world's tremendous interest was more than worth its obvious disadvantages, just as Fairyland is an exciting, adventurous place despite its very large disadvantages, such as dragons."

Unfortunately, that's the best I can do from memory. Can't remember what book of his it was in, either.

dogimo said...

I believe you've done an ace job of paraphrase, there. I don't know that I've read the exact quote - but I've read others from him where he compares the world to fairyland, or the laws of nature to magic. "Grass grows because it is bewitched. Water flows downhill because it is bewitched," I believe was the claim.