It’s sunny in Vancouver.
That statement deserves its own paragraph. It’s sunny in Vancouver, and over the past few days I’ve been the recipient of much kindness: comments and notes and messages from friends that arrive without warning and make me wonder what I’ve done to deserve them. I’m crediting the sun.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of deservingness. In class, my students and I discuss the ongoing conversation about student entitlement. We talk about the difference between deservingness and entitlement. What does the university owe you? I ask them. Who deserves high marks? They have lots of smart things to say about degree inflation, their immigrant parents’ expectations, the value of a number on a piece of paper.
But I also think about deservingness as it relates to love and love stories.
“You deserve to be happy,” my dad said to me once, when I confessed to him that I wasn’t sure if I should stay in my relationship.
“No I do not,” I snapped back.
What I was trying and failing to say was not that I thought I should be unhappy, but that I didn’t think deservingness was part of the equation when it came to love.
My friend Lisa’s award-winning essay about grief, living and dying, and happiness articulates a lot of the feelings I’ve had about deservingness but struggled to articulate. She talks about her father’s death, the addition of tumors, the subtraction of life. “Things are always being added, taken away,” she says.
And this is just it: Life gives us what we get. Regardless of what we deserve. Continue reading