WHO SAID LIFE IS FAIR? – Marilyn Armstrong

With shock and grief, I hear the wailing of betrayed youth. They have made the awfulest Big Discovery.

Life is unfair.

You work hard, perform brilliantly yet wind up bruised and forgotten. Then again, you might find yourself famous, rich, and covered with honors. It’s not cause and effect, though we like to think it is … until the economy, health, or other people betray those beliefs.

The younger me knew — with 100% certainty — that work, talent, ambition and determination were magic. The older me learned you can do everything right, follow all the rules and then some, and it still doesn’t work out.


I did it all. I worked hard and with more than due diligence. I smiled when I wanted to snarl to keep that critical positive attitude. I was creative. I gave it my all.

I did okay, but while I worked hard and put in overtime, I watched the suck-ups, second-raters, and those who worked cheaper if not better, move past me. I came in early and stayed late while they went to meetings and took long lunches. If I’d gone to more meetings, would that have changed the outcome?

Somehow, I doubt it. I can’t be someone I’m not, though I sure did try. It’s out of my hands. I’m a passenger on this bus and it’s a long ride ahead of me (I hope).

Former belief: Play by The Rules, give it your all. You are bound to “make it.”

Current belief: Do the best you can and hope for a bit of luck and a boss who really likes you. Oh, and a company that won’t go bankrupt before you get paid. If not, enjoy life. It’s the only one you’ve got.

We tell our kids if they do it all right they will get that pot of gold. We don’t tell them that work sucks. Most of their bosses will be morons who know less than they do and have less talent.

But we also were right. They will earn a reward: the satisfaction of knowing they did their best. It’s a big reward. Everyone can count on it and no one can take away.

We have to try. If we succeed and for a while, we get a piece of the good stuff, at least enough to feel it wasn’t a waste of time, that’s great. For some, it just doesn’t happen. Bad luck? Wrong attitude? Crappy economy? Not quite enough talent?

And you have to know that trying may not be enough. You also need talent and luck and good timing.

Sometimes, you need a better agent.

I no longer believe in inevitable triumph. There’s always a chance you’ll make it to the top and it’s fantastic if the magic works. For me, realism has replaced optimism. Everyone’s best achievement is living up to our best self. If this also turns into a success, I’ll wear your t-shirt. If not, this is an achievement no one can ruin. You can’t control the world, but you can control yourself.

Life’s a roller coaster. You’re up and then you’re down. Screaming, crying, laughing … you go where the rails take you. Life will surprise you and sometimes a loss becomes a winner and will give you moments of unimagined joy.

Rejoice when times are good, but if you must, cope with the darkness. You can learn a lot in the dark.

Categories: Life, Marilyn Armstrong, Personal, Words, Writing

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

28 replies

  1. My son is 34 and still goes on and on about things not being fair. He doesn’t accept that “life is unfair” even though life has often been unfair to him. He still has that lesson to learn. At a recent dinner, I sat next to a very talkative young man. He asserted that if your job is what you really like doing and what you are talented in, it’s not really work. I told him, yes, it still is work because you can’t love your job all the time and even if you are talented in your field, there is plenty of stuff you have to do which isn’t fun. I attribute both of these young men’s attitudes as being the fact that they are young – one is overly pessimistic and the other overly optimistic, which is something they probably will always be, but perhaps with age, they will learn to moderate their judgments.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Snoopy’s approach.
    Leslie 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Strangely, I’m just doing a post on the Dark Night of Soul – an event that has visited me on at least 2 occasions in this lifetime. The first one lasted about 22 years. I was suicidal at the end before I broke out if it. That’s what it takes. Then i went streaking upward for quite a while. It’s a Spiritual thing.
    I’ve been in another one very recently – and didn’t even know it. I thought I was doing fine. But it was a lie. I was just reading water and smiling. Going nowhere. For a long time. That’s one thing about The Dark Night – it can come at you from an angle you don’t even know exists – and you can be right in he middle of it for a lonnnng time, before you catch on. Fortunately, life has it’s ways of waking us up. Then you have to figure out how to get out. Often it takes Divine assistance to do so. Which is probably the whole point. This precludes that your knees have hit the ground though. If they haven’t, you ain’t ‘out’ yet. And you ain’t ready to get out either. So it goes on Judah.
    I am no Spiritual expert or Master. These are just my feeble mumblings and meanderings, based upon my personal experience. There is NO advice that I can really give anyone because the whole thing is between you and God. And I have no place in between.
    I wish everyone well on their journey and will help if i can. But it ain’t easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was well into my 40s when, while talking to another woman about HER depression, I realized that I’d been depressed my entire life and never noticed because I thought EVERYONE felt that way. You learn a lot in dark places and mostly, for me, I learned how to dig out of the pit and find the light. And no, it was NOT easy. But once I knew there WAS a light and I could find it if I worked hard enough at it, I did it, It doesn’t mean I haven’t slid backward several times, sometimes with good reason, sometimes for no reason at all.

      Liked by 2 people

      • We all go through some dark times I think? Has anybody has really ‘got it made’? If nothing else I’ve gained some compassion. That’s worth a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think this concept of life as a roller coaster is very real. We go up and down, tossed back and forth in our little carts, suddenly find ourselves upside-down in the dark … and then, we come to the end and with shaking knees, we exit … and a lot of us are laughing and ready to ride again. The rest swear they will NEVER do it again 😁


  4. True. Life is not a sum of 2+2=4. It gives you unexpected twists and turns. But in the end what we earn, physically and emotionally is the sum total of what we wanted and thought.


    • It’s easy as long as your health holds up!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Throughout our life the health also yo-yos! I think we see that most people get back what they sow, good or bad. The rest may have to wait for the judgment day!


        • I have no idea why some of us enjoy excellent health our whole lives and others of us start to crumble in our 50s. I suspect it has to do with genetics — what we inherit — but also what we used to do. For me, it was horseback riding. not the riding but the falling. For many, it was football, basketball, or hockey. Youthful sports can take a big toll on you in later years and when I was growing up, we weren’t at all careful. No helmets, no well-designed footwear. Maybe it would have helped. Hard to know. Which isn’t what they told us in school.

          I think a lot of parents are being much more careful now because the amount of damage has turned out to be a rather shocking, especially for rough sports like football, though horseback riding, especially jumping, can kill you. And running and hurtling. I don’t regret it, though I wish I’d been more careful. It just never crossed my mind. And by the time I knew, it was a little bit late.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Beautifully written and so wise. Wisdom is one of the payoffs of old age.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes life is a roller coaster…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Luckily, I love roller coasters!

      Liked by 1 person

        • The last roller coasters Garry and I were on were two HUGE ones in a park in Virginia. We wanted to go on all of them (they had six) but after two, Garry looked at me and said “My bones are saying ENOUGH.” I could have done maybe ONE more … but the previous — very long with a corkscrew turn in it — had twisted pieces of me I didn’t know could be twisted, so at age 70, I realized I really had gotten a bit mature for the coaster. But I think if you took me to Coney Island, i would still do one more run on the Cyclone!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Oh wow you are awesome!!!

            Liked by 1 person

            • I have ridden the Cyclone hundreds of times. Once, with my enthusiastic 8-year-old granddaughter in tow, I did it 9 times — 2 in the morning and seven more in the afternoon. She was ready to keep going — and by then we were getting free tickets. I think he wanted to see how many times Granny could ride before being taken away on a gurney.

              But I couldn’t go any further. I don’t know how Kaitlin could do it because one of her arms was in a cast, She was forever breaking something. Usually feet, but this time, an arm. That particular time was a trammpoline (she was FORBIDDEN by both doctor and family to use one, but she did it anyway and broke her arm). She still breaks things — usually her feet — and has decided to do her BA online because she says”It’s safer. Maybe I can stop getting hurt!”

              The problem is, she is athletic but her body does not agree and she misses those physical activities. My mother was the same. She couldn’t understand how come i didn’t want to go out do DO things — like play hockey or bo bobsledding. For Kaity, it was gymnastics. karate, and horseback riding. I like to think I passed it along — my mother rode, too. Apparently pretty well. She was a hell of a tennis player too.

              Liked by 1 person

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Tish Farrell

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