deserts, part 1

Yesterday morning I had my first session with the new therapist.*   It was the predictable fall-apart sob show.  I think I’ve gotten so numb 90% of the time that given half a second of encouragement, I just completely stop holding it together.  There is no in-between.  All of the chewing gum and duct tape that are getting my psyche through the days just peel right off and I slide into a heap of gelatinous misery.  This is how I know I’m still depressed.

She gave me an assignment for the week:  to come up with an answer to a question I couldn’t answer in the session.  The question I couldn’t answer, that only made me tell pointless stories about heaven knows what, was What do you deserve?

I have been turning this over in my mind.  How does one answer that question?  What does a person deserve, and who gets to decide?  I decided to start with something I am quite sure I believe in:  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are rights.  They belong to everyone.  They’re human rights, not humans-who-measure-up rights.**  That means I deserve (shamelessly abridged; please read the whole thing if you haven’t before):

  • Life, liberty, and security of person.
  • Freedom from slavery or servitude.
  • Freedom from torture or degradation.
  • Recognition as a person before the law; equal protection under the law without discrimination; rights pertaining to due process, both for violations of my rights and for offenses of which I am accused.
  • Privacy without arbitrary intrusion.
  • Freedom of movement, including the freedom to seek asylum.
  • The right to marry and to found a family.
  • The right to own property.
  • Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, expression, and association.
  • Public service including access to government, social security, and participation in government.
  • The right to work for equal pay, to unionize, and to rest and leisure.
  • An adequate standard of living.
  • An education; participation in cultural and scientific advancement.

Do I deserve anything beyond basic human rights?  And again, who gets to decide?  And just how good do I have to be?  Buddhism has taught me that I deserve to be on the path, no matter how slowly I move:  I deserve to want to wake up. I deserve to try.  The brahma-viharas apply to me.

I think I can start there.  I deserve the same human rights as anyone else.  I deserve the same spiritual path as anyone else.  I deserve the same compassion as anyone else.  That feels like riches.


*The whole hour I kept thinking of my previous therapist with nostalgia.  “C***** would never have said that.”  “C***** would have known what I meant.”  Because it’s totally fair to hold someone I just met to the standard of someone who knew me for months!   (And about whom I complained incessantly!)  My students sometimes do this when they start taking lessons with me after having another teacher.  “My old teacher said…”  “Well, that’s not how I learned it.”  Now I understand the impulse.

**To deserve these things is one thing; obviously not everyone has them.  This is why I give to Amnesty International even when it means cutting out of my own budget.


4 responses to “deserts, part 1

  1. Well, now you’ve got ME thinking. And no easy answer comes.

    My aunt used to ask me, “How good can you stand it?” Meaning that I was prone to hitting a self-imposed ceiling and not going any higher. Kind of like finding the limits of what I “deserve.”

    I wonder if “deserving” is tied in with karma. You deserve what you generate toward others.

    Thanks for visiting me today and leaving that comment. Would LOVE to do Bhangara with you sometime!

  2. That makes it a tough question. I think you deserve a hell of a lot more than the basics. I am biased, arent I?

    I wish things were fair. Fairness would be a good start.

    I hate the sound of your depression. I have been there but cut it off this time before I got to that place again. I am sorry it works you over so hard.

  3. That is a great question for you. I’m glad it helped you outline what you feel at minimum you deserve. I feel like deserving is such a slippery concept. There is a lot about it that’s warped. I often get caught up in “just world beliefs”, where I start to think that because I do good, I deserve good. But I don’t believe that deep down. Or, I don’t believe that this is how the world operates. There is more randomness than order.
    Human rights is a great place to start, though. Thank you for that. I think I need to review this for myself.

  4. Pingback: why i choose him | ginger and lime

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