An Opinion Piece by Richard Bleil
This is the story of two men.
My friend’s husband seems to have things fall into place for him. He has a great job with a good income. No doubt he worked for it, and how has his own house, “toys” like motorcycles, travels, and is doing very well for himself. No doubt he put in the work for it, and that work paid off, although frankly he made some bad decisions, but nonetheless had friends with the influence and resources to be sure that the fallout from these decisions was minimal, far less than others who made the same decisions. I worked very hard as well. I completed my doctorate, worked for many years, and today I am about to lose everything. What remains of my belongings fits in the trunk of a car that I am about to lose. With extensive experience and education, I cannot find a traditional job, and am struggling to start my own private business.
He is married and has a lovely family. He has several children, and a beautiful wife who is unwaveringly dedicated to him. His bad decisions include behaviors that, honestly, should have convinced her to walk away from him. She is a beautiful person, inside and out, and could easily find a new husband at the drop of a hat. She is also an old-fashioned person who believes in the sanctity of marriage, and has stood by his side through more strife, trials and tribulations than I could write about. I would love to be married. I’ve always wanted a life partner, somebody that I can support emotionally, spiritually and financially, the mother to my children. And yet, I have no wife, and certainly no children.
He has people who are angry at him. Third parties have said that things have always come too easily for him; his job, his “big boy toys’, his money, his kids, and his wife not only in finding and marrying her, but in that he should have (they have stated) lost her long ago. I have people who are angry for me. They struggle to understand how I can have accomplished so much, and have so little. They cannot understand how it is that no woman has wanted to be with me, how nobody wants to hire me, that after my hard work and accomplishments I am living in a small hotel, homeless, and with practically nothing.
He is not happy with his life. He is feeling unfulfilled with a job that he has built up to provide security and a good job, he is not satisfied with his home and vehicles, and he is unhappy with his wife and family. He sees life that just isn’t fair. Me? I’m okay.
Yeah, seriously; I’m okay. My fate is nobody’s fault, save perhaps my own. It’s okay. I’m eating, I do have a roof even if it is not mine, and currently I have transportation even if I don’t know for how long. If there is a God, then only She knows the reason for my lot in life, and if not, well, then it’s just luck. I’ve recently been asked why these things happen to me. My usual response is, why not?
So is it better to have skill or luck? I guess it depends on your perspective. Have you ever noticed how people who have lost the most are often the kindest, most generous and happiest? I’m not afraid of having nothing. I started with nothing, I’ve lost everything I’ve accomplished, and I’m back again. I know what having nothing means, and I can do it again. Sure, I’d like to keep what i have, but if I lose it, well, that’s okay. I’ll start over, and I gotta tell you, it’s been one helluva ride. If he lost everything, he would be lost. And I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.
Whatever happens, our response is our own decision. To suffer outrageous fortune (to paraphrase a certain brilliant author), or to have the fortune of complete loss, it’s all part of the same adventure. No, I’m not suggesting “don’t worry, be happy” (as my fish used to sing to passerbys). I don’t like “Peter Pan” advice, but, it’s up to us to be happy with our own lives. There are things we can control, and those we can’t. Our efforts can lead to our demise, or luck can drop blessings in our lap. It’s okay. Maybe I’m just trying to justify my life, but personally, I’m going to choose to be kind, generous, and happy with what I have, little though it be.