Friday, July 07, 2006

All things are temporary

A quote:

People always think good news will continue. I guess it's in our nature to think that whatever is around us while we're here is what will continue until we're not.

And then things change, and you're surprised. I guess surprise is in our nature too. And then after the surprise we burrow down into ourselves and pull out what we need to survive, and go on, and endure.

But there's something else, and I am thinking of it.

I knew for many years a handsome and intelligent woman of middle years who had everything anyone could dream of--home, children, good marriage, career, wealth. She was secure. And she and her husband had actually gotten these good things steadily, over 25 years of effort, and in that time they had suffered no serious reverses or illnesses, no tragedies or bankruptcies or dark stars. Each year was better than the previous.

It was wonderful to see. But as I came to know her I realized that she didn't think she had what she had because she was lucky, or blessed. She thought she had them because she was better. She had lived a responsible, effortful life; of course it had come together. She had what she had because she was good, and prudent.

She deserved it. She was better than the messy people down the block.

She forgot she was lucky and blessed!

You forget you're lucky when your luck is so consistent that it confounds the very idea of luck. You begin to think your good fortune couldn't be luck, it must have been . . . talent. Or effort. Or superiority.

That is the new neo-calvinism. To quote Jane Galt "You can phrase the sentiment in a cynical wasy: "[Censored] happens". Or you can phrase it in a cheerful way: "Count your blessings". But either way, they add up to the same thing: the universe is not here to make you happy. That's your job."

Remember, happiness is your job, to find and create in spite of everything else (and sometimes because of it).

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Neocalvinism is a theme I keep running into -- the belief that good fortune is a sign of interior virtue and grace.

Loved these quotes, and the turn the author put the entire concept to -- that of self responsibility for happiness.