“There are comforts and compensations that one who has not suffered knows nothing of — like the lamps that nobody sees till the tunnel comes” (A. W. Barbour).
IN MANY WAYS BIG AND SMALL, LIFE HAS A WAY OF MAKING UP FOR THE THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY FROM US. We hardly ever suffer loss in one area without finding that our capacity for joy has increased in another area. It’s the bitterness of loss that allows us to savor the taste of other things, and like “the lamps that nobody sees till the tunnel comes,” we see certain joys more clearly.
It’s good for us to learn to appreciate life’s compensations. To some extent, we all do appreciate the touches of grace that make up for our losses, but we need to appreciate them more consciously. If you’ve been wiped out financially but still have your health, don’t take it for granted. Enjoy your health! Savor it! Don’t let a drop of it go to waste!
It’s also good for us to find ways to be a part of life’s compensation to others. If your next-door neighbor has suffered some misfortune, you may be absolutely helpless to do anything about that misfortune, but your neighborliness may be a part of the way in which life is going to compensate them for their loss. Almost certainly, there is going to be something you can do, in some other area, to brighten their life.
And finally, it’s good for us to compensate others for the generous things they do for us, or at least to try to do so. Granted, some people shower us with such kindness that we could never repay them adequately, but it’s still a good idea to try. If we put our minds to it, we can almost always find some means of saying, “Let me make it up to you.” My father, for example, was a watchmaker. He repaid many a kindness by fixing somebody’s watch, free of charge, the next time it quit running.
We need to respect the fact that our world is governed by moral laws as well as physical ones. In the long term, if not in the short, wrongs tend to be righted. If we’ve been so foolish as to mistreat those around us, justice will eventually stand up and defend those who’ve been our victims. They will be compensated — and so will we. The medicine that we dispense to others had better have a good flavor, because sooner or later, we’re going to get a taste of it.
“This is a world of compensations” (Abraham Lincoln).