BF is a little down because, when she went a party at an astronomer's house this past weekend, she saw that he'd been awarded one of Canada's "Top 40 under 40" awards (why you would keep such an award in your house didn't occur to me until this moment, but that's an exploration for another day, I think). She has also seen an article about him online, and he has "won a lot." So she became a bit gloomy about the state of her own career, which she feels has been less than stellar.
Well, it's an odd thing, comparative envy, isn't it? Just like resentment, hurt, and to some extent rage, it evokes a deep sense of inadequacy and injustice, and a good deal of the old, "Why him? What's wrong with me?" feeling, too. And that question is a puzzle. I've written a good deal - one might say ad nauseam - about the issue of cosmic justice on this blog, and the experience BF is having seems to be both similar and different. No one has done her wrong, but there is a sense that despite having worked as hard, and being just as smart, she is not reaping the rewards - and why should that be?
Over these last months I've come to think something I've thought before but never been able to hold onto; I suspect I won't hold onto it this time, either, but I wish I could. It is, Time will have its revenge. I don't mean that in a direct or cruel way: no tit-for-tat, no great fall for those who have been undeservedly high. The Mr. Fallen who left me for someone else will not necessarily be left himself, for example. But he will experience other sorrows or stabs, equal in measure, in his life. They will come, just as my happinesses will come. In my more accepting and rational moments I conceive of Time as one of those 3-D maps - not a topographical map, but one of those maps in science fiction moves, where a grid appears, then some three-dimensional peaks, and then they make a person's head and rotate it.
On one such map, there may be a series of very high peaks, but later on very deep troughs. On another, the peaks and troughs will come in different places, or be different heights and depths. But in the bounded spaces of the maps, those different places and measurements will work out to be about even in overall height and number of peaks and troughs. Well, that's how time and life are, I think when I'm more Buddhist: it evens out.
Leigh Hunt calls time, "you thief, who love to get sweets into your chest," and I mean that, only in reverse. I never think of Time as taking, only bringing, and in the end it brings us all sorrows and happinesses, even Great Sorrows and Great Happinesses. Just hold on and...wait.
(Interestingly enough, Hunt captures this, too, in the same poem, now that I think of it:
...Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your chest, put that in:
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad;
Say that health and wealth have missed me;
Say I'm growing old, but add -
Jenny kissed me.)
Of course, in my less zen moments I gnash my teeth and think how unfair it is that the shafters do not get shafted themselves, and that the tedious, or no smarter, get the accolades.
(I believe I shall from now on refer to Great Sorrows as "GS." "Yes," I shall say mysteriously, "Losing his mother was a GS to him..." They can be like LE's, BE's, and GE's.)