Deserve

No one deserves anything.

I don’t find the concept of “desert” (in the “just deserts” sense) to be a meaningful or helpful concept. (I obviously find the concept of desert as an after-meal treat to be a highly meaningful concept.)

Appeals to desert fall on deaf ears. If the universe is in fact ruled by an intelligence beyond our own, they clearly don’t care about what we think we deserve in the earthly realm.

I don’t like to categorize ideas as “right” or “wrong.” Such a classification smacks of a hubris I’d rather not embrace. But I’m very comfortable categorizing ideas as either “helpful” or “unhelpful,” and desert is definitely an unhelpful idea.

You get what you work for, seasoned liberally with what random events dish out to you. Crying foul about your lot in life might be cosmically true, but no one is listening. No universal force will respond to your appeals. You just have to pick yourself up and try again.

And this isn’t some hopeful missive tainted with privileged naivete – I’m not saying “If you just keep at it you’ll eventually succeed!” No way. Many people try their whole lives and fail, unsuccessful and unfulfilled. I acknowledge it. I embrace it. Rather, this is simply helpful advice: what else can you do?

Every second spent grousing about injustice is a second you could have been building a boat. Sowing a garden. Learning a language. Hugging a friend. Telling a joke. Chase meaning or chase joy – chase both if you can catch them, but there’s never been a single instance of anyone getting what they deserved because the universe agreed with you.

Your existence begins anew every instant. Whatever your circumstances are right this very second, those are the starting conditions of your new life. If you see an injustice you can fix, fix it. If you can’t, fix something else. The noblest form of life is the person that says, “Everything about my life is terrible, and none of it is my fault – so I’m going to plant a tree.”

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