This I Believe

Alistair - Atlanta, Georgia
Entered on July 25, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe my life is wonderful and I believe life isn’t fair.

Every day I suffer with constant, agonizing back pain. It regularly overwhelms me and its presence is a dark cloud through which I see the world. For 15 years I have lived with pain and until recently, I have been focused deeply on myself and my healing. I return often to the question; Why me? Why do I have to suffer? What have I done to deserve this pain?…It’s not fair.

But recently I started questioning, what is fair? Is it fair that my daughter was born with a hole in her precious heart? Is it fair that approximately 3 ½ million people in the US will not sleep in a home tonight? Is it fair that over 30,000 children die each day due to poverty? Is it fair that each day 11,000 Africans are infected with AIDS and 6,000 die?

I believe nothing is evenly balanced in this world, this is life. From the microscopic to the global; from random genetic mutations that cause abundant variations, to the distribution of rocks containing oil. Life, in its broadest sense, is not fair, nothing is equal, and differences proliferate.

But I realized this inequality also applies to the good things in life. At work one day, I glanced out of the window, a nearby lake glinted in the morning light and a sense of peace and happiness filled me. In that moment I felt so lucky and content. Is it fair that I can find happiness and peace in such a small moment? Is it fair that I am brimming with happiness when I hear my daughter laughing with my wife? Is it fair that I find contentment and tranquility in standing quietly in a trout stream? Is it fair that the residence of Hawaii live in such a beautiful place? Is it fair that Bangladesh is the happiest nation in the world even though they are one of the poorest? The differences in the world are abundant at every level. Everything is different, nothing is equal.

How I chose to focus my life defines how happy I am and how much is truly ‘fair’ to me. If I focus entirely on my pain nothing will ever be fair and I will always be unhappy…and in agony. The Bangladeshis might never be happy if their focus in life was their financial situation.

Though significant, the differences in the world are not primary; it is how I perceive them and what I do about them that is of greatest significance. When I strive to understand, empathize and be compassionate; when I see the amazing beauty in the smallest elements of our world; when I empathize with the pain; when I search and push for harmony in the world, that is when the differences become insignificant. And though it is not fair, life IS truly wonderful.