Life isn’t fair
Life’s not fair. Terrible things happen to good people. Kids die. Bad guys win.
We try to find order and patterns in everything, because that’s what humans do. When something good happens, religious people say, “Our God is great.” When bad things happen, we wonder what we did to deserve it.
Sometimes when people say “Life’s not fair,” they’re just lazily or selfishly excusing something shitty. But in general, people want justice. “I have a dream!” We want justice except for when we benefit from injustice (see: slavery). Striving for justice is the noblest of human social endeavors, in my opinion. But it doesn’t always work, and much of what happens is out of the human jurisdiction, anyway. (Unless you’re Pat Robertson, in which case every natural disaster can be attributed to gays, abortion, marijuana, and liberal professors.) My point is, shit happens, and we look for reasons to explain why the shit happens. Because an uncaring and unjust universe is hard to swallow, apparently. We want “god” to be “just,” like us. Ha. Ha.
Aside: I think this is why most of us who love sports love sports. Not because we love to see speed or strength or winning. But because sports exist in an idealized, human-created world in which we attempt to establish a level playing field. We dislike cheating and cheaters: refs who bet on games; boxers with loaded gloves; Lance Fucking Armstrong. We like competitive balance. Everyone’s supposed to have a decent shot at winning. This is why we love it when the Yankees lose: because they’re the richest, and the way they buy the best players isn’t fair. (Unless you’re a Yankees fan, in which case you’re probably against Communist revenue sharing.)
Yoga isn’t a sport. Yoga exists to help us deal with the realities of life. It was developed to provide tools for us to achieve mental, physical, and emotional balance. Yoga teaches unattachment and being here now, even if ‘here now’ sucks. Especially when here now sucks. These lessons are readily available to us when we take a yoga class. Look around: is it fair that some people are stronger or more flexible or look better in tights than others? Is it fair that you’re the one working through a shoulder surgery, or hamstring tear, or broken heart? We throw the concept of fair out the window. We leave it outside along with competitiveness. In class, we simply come up against our frailties, injuries and discomforts and deal with them. You can’t win at yoga, and no one’s there to prop up your ego.
Now, why we would invite difficulty and discomfort into our lives brings us back to sports. A yoga class is an idealized, human-created world in which we practice Yoga. There, in the safety of our friendly neighborhood studio, we create and confront obstacles to practice dealing with them. In practice, we become aware of our reactions to conflict, defeat, vulnerability, and work on owning those reactions, or changing them as needed. We practice awareness and reaction, so we are better prepared for outside-the-studio difficulties, reactions, and consequences. (Also, we just feel good after class. We may do some important work, but let’s be real: it’s the endorphins that keep us coming back.)
Life’s not fair. But we should always have a dream of justice and work for it, and when that fails, we should have the tools to deal with it. That’s what yoga’s good for.