Fate and Fairness
The twins and I are always reading a book together, but the ChickieNob and I also have a side book going at the same time. We currently started reading The Fault in Our Stars because she had picked it up at a bookstore and read the first few pages and laughed over Hazel’s sarcasm.
We were a few chapters into the book when she asked about the title, and I explained its ties to Julius Caesar and the idea of fate and the stars determining the length and quality and events of your life. Cassius is telling Brutus the fault is not in their stars but their own personalities, and this idea is played with in John Green’s book: Who gets a long life and who gets a short life and who gets remembered and who gets forgotten… it’s all mostly a matter of chance. And the odds were definitely not in these characters’ favour.
I decided to read her my favourite post by Susan Niebur, Toddler Planet, who died a few years back. I bookmarked this post and return to it often because it is probably the most profound, important thing I have ever read on the Internet. A big claim, yes, but I think if you read the whole post, you’ll agree.
She explains with a story:
Life is given to each of us. We each get one shot at this sucker, and we are never really told that it will be fair. We each get one life, one daily wage, and that’s it. The guy next door gets one life to live. The mom down the street gets one too. No one ever promised us the same life, the same opportunities, the same blessings, or the same time to live.
If we look at it that way, we are all treated fairly by the universe. Even when it doesn’t feel as if we are being treated fairly by the universe. Can we really argue? I mean, we’re given exactly what we were promised: A single life. And what we do with that life, and the circumstances that we encounter while living it, are both in and out of our hands.
It has been hard to read this book aloud. There are a lot of times when I need to pause and cry because it is so true, and so heartbreaking in its stark truth. And I cried when I reached these lines in Susan’s post, now reading them after the fact and knowing she is gone:
I have everything I ever wanted. Am I sometimes envious of others, who may get forty-plus more years on this Earth than I? Sure. But I was never promised 80 years. I was promised a life. And boy, have I had a pretty incredible life.
I hope we all live incredible lives, too. When I think that I’m not, I come back to this post and re-read it again and think, “Yes, that’s it. I only have control over certain portions of my life, and the rest of chance. So do what I can in the places I can.” I aspire to one day have as much grace and wisdom and intelligence as Susan. I may never be a NASA scientist like she was, but I will always be grateful that she placed down a path of words for us to walk down and glimpse inside that brilliant brain and see the world in a different way.