Sometimes, when it is night time and I am alone in my house, I stand in my bathroom with only one light on and look at my eyes in the mirror. They are brown, my eyes, a mix of medium and light browns in the center, surrounded by sprays of black that grow according to type of light and mood. Which, one could argue, are often the same thing.
When anyone says, “This is wonderful news. You deserve this.” Or, “He’s an idiot. You deserve someone who appreciates you,” my anxious soul sighs gently and slips back into repose. Do I? Oh I do, it says gratefully.
But what does it mean to deserve? Who is the judge of this, and by what standards? When terrible things befall someone, do they deserve them? And when wonderful things grace another, is it possible they may not?
I certainly don’t deserve to lose a job, or to have a heart be bruised. I’m a good person, I like to tell myself, a very good one, and so I deserve very good things. “Oh no,” my friends will say, “you deserve great things. A great job! A great love! Someone who truly knows what he’s found in you.” I shimmer a little more brightly under these pronouncements.
Yet what is it that we deserve? A roof over our heads, clean water, good food, health care, companionship and affection, a series of interesting books, a cat curled up on a sofa or a dog at your feet, a few minutes of uninterrupted time to yourself, someone to tell you that you matter in this world. I could keep going.
An inventory of these five last night revealed the following: hints of improvement in the body and mind, a boost to the ego, a glimmering of renewal in the soul, and a bruised heart. On the whole, a balance that tipped toward good.