It’s that time of year.
Before terrorist marathon bombings, bankruptcy filings, terroristic letters filled with poison, possibly terrorist-inspired explosions, metropolitan stay-in-place orders and terrorist man hunts mesmerized the news junkie in me this week, the biggest news in my life was that my Adored Stepson was about to graduate from high school.
It’s still the biggest news in my life. I’m proud of him.
As has happened repeatedly when he takes another step towards adulthood, I reflect on those steps in my own life (and I try to forget I graduated 28 years ago — uffda).
As I pondered my own maturity (and lack thereof) at that age, I ran across the editorial I wrote for the last edition of my high school school newspaper, which at the time was called “The Tomahawk.”
Oh, how times have changed. The Indians were the mascot of my high school back then so naming our newspaper after an implement of violence made perfect sense.
The headline of the editorial was “Life isn’t fair.” I thought it was brilliant at the time. Some of it is still brilliant. Some of it is so simplistic. And some of it is so dated (does anyone say “brown nosers” anymore? and does anyone remember why Nicaragua was relevant?).
In any case, here is my 28-year-old editorial, for your weekend reading pleasure. May life return to simple pleasures like graduation parties and old newspaper clips.
From The Tomahawk, May 24, 1985
“Hey, That isn’t fair! He got more than I did!”
When we were in elementary, our teachers and parents did their best to even things out so that everything was fair. Our parents gave each kid the same number of Christmas presents and made us take our turn washing dishes. Our teachers made sure that everyone got a chance to be line leader or team captain. Of course, sometimes there’s a teacher’s pet, but if some things weren’t equal, it generally didn’t matter much anyway. Your future didn’t depend on an extra piece of cake or losing your recess because you punched somebody (and it was his fault!).
But life got more complicated. Fancy Nancy had nice clothes and a boyfriend. Athletic Al could run faster than anyone and never got less than straight A grades. It wasn’t fair! But it got worse. The National Honor Society was just “a bunch of brown nosers,” and you were the one who decorated for the prom — why does someone else get to enjoy it? And how fair is it when someone in the spring of their life is handicapped? Or worse yet, killed? It isn’t fair.
But no one promised us that life was going to be fair. I think our teachers misled us. And what’s fair anyway? It’s all relative — fair is inside the third base line until it reaches the outfield. And it isn’t always we who are cheated. We come out on top just as often as we’re stepped on.
We can say, “It’s not fair” all day long and blame someone else because we were stepped on, but it doesn’t change anything. Instead of expecting life to treat us all equally, we should hope that it does but expect that it probably won’t. And when it doesn’t, instead of holding a pity party for ourselves, we should go out there and attempt to right the wrong.
You’re right. Life isn’t fair. But complaining about it wastes a great deal of time. Life is a journey, and a bad attitude ruins the trip. Accept life’s inequalities. Don’t let them get to you — take them in stride and take consolation in the fact that Fancy Nancy will probably become an unwed mother and Athletic Al will die in Nicaragua. It all evens out.