I’ve just got back from my weekend cycle, and spent some of the trip thinking about this post. I don’t know if I can even begin the broach the subject, but here goes.
There’s an awful lot of emphasis these days on ‘rights’. I go to my new place of work and am introduced on the first day to the idea of joining the Union, and how they will take care of my working rights. I’ve just finished a fine period drama series set in the Cotton Mills of North England (North and South) and at the heart of it was a disparity between the rights of the various levels of working society then. (Oh, yes, there was a great romance too). I picked up a newspaper during my coffee break today, at the peak of my cycle, and read a lengthy article about the taboo subject of abortion. . . all of it from the ‘enlightened’ point of view that there is only one Right way to see it – the woman’s choice and it should be a cursory decision. Truly. It got me thinking. What about the many who have gone ahead at great cost to themselves, and had that child with hydrocephalus, or downs syndrome, and found that they not only coped but something intangible was worked into them that added to their lives. None that I know of ever regretted their choice. But I’m not going further down THIS road.
. . . it got me thinking about the difference between ‘expressing and fighting for a right’ and what I think of as something much more forgiving and subtle and loving than that: ‘yielding and caring and not being worried about the cost.’
Now hear me on this. No, I have not gone through YOUR life experience, your issues, your disabilities and whatever those pressures are you have been under. I do not challenge anyone’s right to make a choice in their life. I do not challenge that there have many times been the need to assert rights on behalf of others who cannot speak as loudly for themselves.
I can only speak of my own experience of life. And those older and wiser than me have taught me that there is always a higher way. Pushing for your own rights, sits way down at the bottom of that mountain slope. Concern about whether you are getting the right level of comfort, the proper respect, a fair distribution of attention, treated with the dignity you deserve . . . well, they’re issues we can all sympathise over. They are also issues that will NEVER be resolved. The most unhappy people I know spend an inordinate amount of time concerned about these things. It is a sad fact that many of us gaze out upon the world around us and see disparity. We do all we can to make ourselves comfortable and happy, and avoid choices that take us outside that comfort zone.
The most calm, satisfied, and joyful people I know, are not the richest, nor the ones who have the least burdens. Neither are they the ones who have received the attention and love that they rightfully deserve. They’re the ones who have received the same disproportionate amount of fairness from the world in terms of ability, or health, or poverty, or family, and have chosen to keep giving, to keep loving, to offer themselves again and again. The times in my own life where I was helpless to do anything about a situation that felt crushing to me, and I faced a clear choice. . . if I chose not to fight for my own comfort first, and just to yield, I always came out of it with a greater well of compassion inside me than I would have otherwise.
Having a sense of entitlement is the downfall of many relationships. And it is a joyless endeavour. Suffering can either bring bitterness, or it can make strong, (especially if it is received and never spoken of.) This post is not about looking back at the past and feeling regret or despair, it is about reminding myself and anyone else who has bothered to read this far, that there is hope, and we hold it in our own hands to make our own lives richer and more fulfilling.