“You’ll get your just desserts,” Nancy joked. It seemed directly related to the end of dinner, given my waiting for her to finish her plate, but in fact it was a summation. Life is not fair! One person gets away with murder; yet 24601 Jean Valjean gets hounded for the rest of his life for stealing a loaf of bread? There is no equity. There is no equanimity. There is just ‘what is’. So it is for all when cast in our real life’s Les Miserables. And our lessons are learned, or not. It is the intent with which we live that makes the difference. One person’s practice may be to make each and every thing interesting; another person’s may be not to be bored, which is quite different.
And rewards are not on par with effort. The reward best be in the effort itself. One person will swim an ocean with a letter between his teeth, fight off sharks, the tigers on shore, surmount the steepest cliffs, o’erstep the sharpest of crags, and finally arrive at the abode of his beloved to lay the missive at her feet. “What took you so long,” she may say. “Why didn’t you just mail it?”
Manuscripts are like that. One person will make a kazillion bucks with a fortnight’s plotline as thin as a thread, yet put enough weight on it to provide sufficient suspense, and the public will search out his wares. But another will spend months if not years of research, live the work of a lifetime, self-publish the result, and hardly garner any notice at all. Livingstone needed to have the world aware he was in Africa. Stanley needed to have the world aware he was going after him. The rest is history. But of the journey of M’Lady’s life, with its 90 years worth of arduous and torturous and unfair topsy-turvy advent after advent, what readership does she have? Who responds? The tome most likely will be flipped through by most of her family, “but who on earth nowadays reads 300 pages?” (Even if each unique page is liberally enlivened with pictures?) We look for how a thing, anything, relates to ourselves, our own name, to our own interests, or we devalue its worth. Quite naturally, disinterest springs from the self. Taking is easier than giving.
Yet we have this expectation that one should get one’s just desserts. Positive or negative, we bandy about with karma as though it were a tally sheet, a bank book, or a chequing account. And most of us are easily in debt. We think we can get away with our secrets. We think we can draw the curtains on the passers-by. We think we have skeletons in the closet that no one hears rattle. We think we are inviolate in our own cocoons. But we forget we are in metamorphosis. We are in the process of becoming greater than our immediate paradigm, aware of it or not. Thing is, it seems to take so slow! Am I really a caterpillar; not a worm or a slug? How about a snake? It sheds its skin. Or what about a...? Yet whatever we chose with which to identify, we are affected by change, intrinsically motivated or not. And we each grow old and die. Life in the meantime is not fair. Some of us are lone wolves; many of us, they say, are sheep. Stasis is for rocks, but they break down too. There is no stasis. Yet few wake with intentions to be more-better than afore.
Thing is, one’s just deserts are adjudged by others in terms of their own reference. We hang, or we deal out life sentences. We give accolades, a plaque, and a statue in the town square. Others just walk on by. Joshua Bell played his Stradivarius in the New York subway, and people hardly noticed. Many others paid hundreds of dollars to hear him in a concert hall. Indeed, `tis best to do what one does for the very love of doing it. Therein might just be found one’s “just desserts”!