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Man's Work

Man's Work

Welcome back, as I resume new comics this month! Over the summer, I came across a story from a woman named Torria on "Humans of New York." She said of her childhood, "I was just going through so much, you know. Horrible things were being done to me. Horrible, terrible things. So I’d use whatever I could. I’d pay attention to anything that made me happy. That’s one thing I can do: pay attention. It comes from something within me. We all have it. But you know, I tap into it. I still do. I just took a picture of a flower this morning. I’m so grateful. I’m telling you, I’m so grateful that I came out of the darkness. Maybe my journey wasn't to make money or to be successful or anything. It was just to recover."

I just read and re-read that statement, and came back to it weeks and even months later: "My journey wasn't to make money or to be successful or anything. It was just to recover."

And it brought to mind how unfair life can be. How different our experiences are, how due to "man's fault" -- the fault of humanness, our ability to inflict unspeakable pain on someone, to plunge another being into darkness -- someone might never fulfill some potential for greatness. It's just not fair.

There is no known reason that I can understand which explains why I was born into the life I have, and the opportunities availed to me, while somewhere else, another woman who might have been a greater artist, a more heart-touching poet, or a more nurturing mother, is struggling to keep herself alive in a civil war.

I can't judge the world on the basis of fairness. It would break my heart and drive me crazy with anguish every time. Instead, I've been trying to look at it from the Confucian perspective that each of us must simply "discharge one's duties" in life. I return to Torria and how the darkness of her childhood kept her in shadows from which she was lucky to emerge. Michael Meade says, "The fateful event of being wounded early in life creates the need for a deep healing process that becomes the path of awakening for each person." No, it wasn't fair that she suffered through such darkness. It was wrong, and she deserved better. And at the same time, she discharged her duty to herself to recover. And who can say that that's not enough? It's more than enough. It's amazing.

So what is the implication for someone whose "path of awakening" is more accessible? I guess I, too, must discharge my duties be responsible to myself and because I have the means, to live beholden to those around me. No, I can't make life fair, and I can't make the whole world just, but I can make some good for others through good work. And maybe that's all that I should expect.


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