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Hey Mr. Trash Man! Whose life sucks now?

June 2, 2011

I wrote this while in CA at the end of April, three weeks after all my Big Ugly Shit. It wanders a lot, so bear with me. I do have a point- I just start out about a mile away from it. And, by posting this, I think it’s time to get back to living my life. I’ll be posting regularly again (although sometimes only once a week) and back on more typical topics, as well…

So. I am sitting in this hot tub, staring up at the sky (not so many stars these days in SoCal), and actually wishing I could cry. Weird, I know.

I hear the gate opening on the other end of the pool, and hurry to hide my illegal glass of wine (no glass near the pool, people, and don’t use the jacuzzi alone… what’s a single girl to do, really…). Turns out it’s just the housekeeping guy emptying the pool trash.

As I watch him, I think about how he must view me. Here he is, having to use a flashlight (…since they might not let you come by during the day…?) to check the trash so he doesn’t bother or alarm any guests… and here I am, hanging out with illegal wine in the jacuzzi. Livin’ it the fuck up, right.

Or trying to cry. Whatever. So there, Mr. Trash Man. You think you have it so hard, having to empty trash by flashlight because this snazzy hotel doesn’t want its guest to think you exist (our trash just disappears! magic!). I don’t have it so great. My sister almost killed herself (but, who knows, she might try to rectify that in the future), and she’ll probably take my parents down with her. Whose life sucks now?

But… that’s kind of awful. Comparing who has it worse. When really it’s about figuring out how to keep going, and finding happiness (again) in the face of the big sister-killing-self shit, or the mundane, I-take-out-your-trash-by-flashlight shit.

What if this guy, despite his shit job, doesn’t care that I’m in the hottub, he’s happy in his life? Would that make him better at living, because he can get past the mundane? Or will my survival (fingers crossed) and return to happiness mean I win?

Of course, this line of thought is completely asinine, no matter what angle you take. To sound completely cliche, no one wins when you make life a contest.

The thing that you can count on in life is that it is not, never has been and never will be, fair. From the moment we are born, and every day until we die. In what we are born into – from the resources our newbie fingertips don’t even realize they have (and the ones our new stomachs recognize when we do not), to the physical location of our birth, the color of our skin, the sex (as in genitals, people) in our diapers, and the gender in our minds. And, in the things life throws at us, the ones we see coming a mile away and the ones from left field and out of the blue.

It is why religion is so damn popular. To explain why bad things happen to good people, and why good things happen to bad people. And, of course,  so the rich can keep the poor from storming the castle.

We live in a world of unfair. But, of course, we don’t just endure inequality, we embrace and encourage the have and have-not. But, even if we didn’t create it for ourselves, our genes do it for us. No species survives when all individuals are equal. And by equal, I literally mean the same – not some better and some worse. Diversity is not just the spice of life, but the very essence of it. The world is always changing around us, governed by principles as well as chaos, and only in diversity do species make the most of that change. Without it, species cease to exist.

It is why, even when male and female individuals of a species still live, that species is doomed when it reaches low enough levels. It’s not incest, but a lack of a diversity that seals that species’ fate – and it is in fact the lack of diversity that makes incest a problem. Without diversity, there is no ability to adapt. Without the ability to adapt, there is no existence. There is no life.

And, as human beings so amply demonstrate, you never know what traits will prove most successful in this ever changing world. It was not the biggest Homo sapien with the baddest set of fangs that allowed us to spread like a plague.

No, Mr. Trash Man. You and are I different. Born with different resources, skin color, gender, sex, physical location, and, as it were, genes (not that these matter all that much to the human race any longer – we’ve made sure that some part of our culture and condition can, and most likely will, override whatever Mother Nature gave you – for better or worse).

But it’s still not a contest. It’s not about comparing the shit that I’ve been through to the shit you see every night by flashlight. It’s also not about comparing the things neither of us can change.

Life is not a contest. Life is about accessing the resources you do have and making the most of what you are given, both the things you can’t change and the shit life sends careening out of left field. It’s about finding appreciation and gratitide, and happiness, and love, and strength.

This is not to belittle, ignore, or excuse the inequality that exists, and is manifested and encouraged by our society. While it is about using the resources you have to make your life what you want, it is also about looking out for those around you. Not comparing our differences, especially those we have little ability to change, but instead working to eradicate what we can – for us or for those that will come after we are gone. So that they can be born into a world with smaller discrepancies in the things they can’t change.

It is not about who has it worse, or better. That should be examined and acknowledged, but not end the conversation, miring us in volatile comparisons and excuses. It is rising up those that have less, and speaking for those with no voice.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2011 11:15 am

    You’re completely right: it’s not about comparing. Everyone is fighting their own battles.

    • June 2, 2011 5:54 pm

      Exactly. The problem is, of course, that that is easy for us to say. Well. I am making assumptions about you – that you’re white, middle-ish class, hetero, college ed. Some of those I know about, some I assume.

      But. The point remains: comparing doesn’t get anyone anywhere – it just alienates people all over again. We should work together *in spite* of our differences.

  2. June 2, 2011 2:41 pm

    It is about living. Not just going through the motions. And that… is the really hard part. To be a decent human being, both towards others and yourself.

    “Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?”
    — Mary Oliver


    • June 2, 2011 5:55 pm

      OMG *love* the quote!!!

  3. June 2, 2011 3:39 pm

    Absolutely agree. I cannot stand when people try to ‘one-up’ each other on who has it worse, or who has gone through more turmoil etc. what does that really accomplish anyway? hurt feelings, anger, frustration, but no winner. Nobody wins at that. I have a former friend who used to be the queen of the life one-upping. Notice she’s a ‘former’ friend…

    • June 2, 2011 5:59 pm

      It’s *so* prevalent in our culture. I have friends that way too. When you stop and think about the things they’re trying to one-up everyone else on, you realize “sheesh! That’s a battle I sure as fuck don’t want to win! You got that one, sistah!”

      Of course, it runs deeper and more… real in other situations. Like when dealing with inequality over race, gender, sex, sexuality, social standing, education etc. We often end up either letting the conversation end with “you can never understand, you are [white/hetero/middle class/American/etc]” – while a valid statement, it shouldn’t mean the end of the conversation – or we just hold up excuses for why we deserve what we have/are better. You know? It’s all more valid in this case, but doesn’t get us any further.

  4. June 2, 2011 4:18 pm

    Yes, the world can be unfair. Often good people experience bad things – that’s just the way it goes.

    I like your point about speaking for those with no voice. When life hands you the short straw, it’s nice to have someone to listen to so you know that you’re not alone.

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