Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dogen says it's hard to tell what is good or bad. How true.  All too often, we define good and bad in relation to our own selves - what we perceive as good for us and what we perceive as bad for us.  However, it's often the case that what's good for us is bad for someone else, and what's bad for us is good for someone else.  So is the thing itself inherently good or bad, or is good or bad just in a matter of our perspective?

And then, what we often think of as good for us turns out to be bad in the long wrong, like too much candy for a child or too much wine later in life.  And what we think is bad often turns out to have some unexpected virtue or blessing - how many cancer survivors later recall that their tragic diagnosis turned out to be the greatest blessing in their life?

My recent, involuntary change in status after nearly 30 years of corporate employment to that of a lone contractor sometimes seems bad, although it is not hard to imagine several different happy outcomes.  But a combination of fear, paranoia, and resentment holds my mind much of the time, allowing me to only imagine the potential unhappy results.  But who's to say what's good or what's bad?

I spent most of the day today sitting in on a deposition for a legal case in which I was asked to testify.  The opposing witness, the one being deposed, had a very rough time of things and clearly was not having a happy day.  Even though "bad" things were happening to my opponent, I felt a lot of empathy and compassion for his struggles.  He was older than me and near the twilight of his career - is that really where I want to be in 10 years?, I wondered.   Maybe I should seize this opportunity to quit the rat race and get out while I can.

Who's to say what's good and what's bad?

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