I had a dream last night that a friend offered to buy us a house. This is a wealthy friend, a kind friend, and perhaps a generous friend? In the dream, she felt that Dan and I were working so hard and had been dealt a bad hand, she wanted to help (plus, purchasing a house in the Philly burbs didn't make a dent in her family's bank account). I woke up wishing for a sponsor.
This fantasy led me back to a comment another friend (let's call her Chrysanthemum) made to explain another friend's (let's call her Daffodil) acquiring a lovely new home.
Me: Wow, Daffodil's new place is really great! They got so lucky.
Chrysanthemum: No, it wasn't luck. They worked really hard.
Me (now, 4 months later, thinking): That's total CRAP! We worked really hard, too. And we were/are down in the trenches every single day, helping other people's children. We work jobs with pride and love and compassion and we SURE DO WORK HARD. But since education is grossly undervalued, and teachers grossly underpaid, we don't earn millions of dollars every year. And that lack of funds leads to stress about paying for what we do have and worry about how to afford what we lack.
My beef today isn't even about money though. It's more about the fact that so so many of life's determining factors are out of our control before we're even born. Take Paris Hilton for example, or someone like Kim Kardashian. Neither of these girls has worked hard a day in their lives. They were born into wealthy families, with excellent bone structure and a love of the camera.
The most obvious dependent-on-luck factor is health. You can make every possible healthy choice known to science and even then, your cells can poop out on you. Working hard makes for good ethics, high productivity, and potentially even prosperity. But it doesn't account for luck. I don't wish bad luck on "Chrysanthemum" (I've heard she's experiencing some of her own at the moment), but I do wish for a little change of perspective.
Hmm... I wonder, if perhaps a trip to visit one of my families' homes in North Philadelphia might do the trick. I visited with a baby today (a 9 month old, born 10 weeks premature) whose mother is having her 4th child via c-section next week. There are no fewer than 10 children (and counting) living in the house and I won't go into details about the physical conditions. Use your imagination.
How about this new baby that's about to enter the world? What luck has already been bestowed upon him/her? I wonder if, by working hard, s/he will be able to learn to communicate with spoken language? Or perhaps to do basic computation? To land a minimum wage job? To eat a fresh vegetable? Are these attributed to hard work?
Don't misunderstand. Many of us fortunate enough to have been born into families who valued education, spoken and written language, and who passed along a love of learning, did and do work hard. Through school, college, first and subsequent jobs, we attended, studied, completed tasks presented, and felt good about our deeds. But in order to get to a place of deed doing, someone was there behind us, setting an example, and prodding us to hang up the phone, eat a good breakfast, clean up after yourself, be polite.
It could've been me (or you) born into a house overrun by half-dressed, hungry children, growing up in a neighborhood where it's too dangerous to play on the sidewalk out front. What luck.
Aah. That's a little better. Thanks for tuning in for Whiny Wednesday.
Still on my vacay from Facebook (24 hours and counting), I am on the prowl for some inner quiet - some relief of the guilt and (illogical) shame I tend to place on my own shoulders. My mom sent me a link to a challenge our Rabbi wrote about on his tumblr:
"From computers to smart phones to iPads, these devices have much to offer us, but they can often overwhelm our ability to quiet ourselves and find peace." - Rabbi Adam Zeff
I think I'm gonna give his unplugging thing a try. This Shabbat (Sabbath/Saturday for me), I'm going device-free. It will be difficult, to intentionally not check email or fool around on Pinterest (how will I pass the time while Judah is having his swim lesson?). But I like the idea of reconnecting with people, making actual eye contact, and enjoying the company of others.
Are you game?