On Struggle

No code today.

It’s 2 AM and I’m at that wonderfully frustrating in-between stage of fatigue where one is too tired to complete any tasks requiring significant concentration, and one is too active to sleep. Plus, I’m slated to start a two week graveyard rotation at work, so I need to tweak my sleep schedule a bit, which makes this a perfect time to crack open that Red Bull and muse about my existence. Or maybe just sit here and stare blankly at my screen while the second season of Big Bang Theory hums on in the background.

My fiancee and I have both had our share of struggles- single parents, straight-A demands, siblings that walked the fine line between sticking up for their kid brother/sister and trying to figure out the hell that is junior year of high school, so I don’t know if I go ask her about my homework that she’ll help me, or throw her shoe at the wall and scream at me to get out. And that struggle doesn’t change when you move out, graduate, and get married- it just morphs into “well, which five-figure student load debt do we try to pay off first, once the car gets fixed, we order a new washer, and the landlord manages to figure out what the funny smell is radiating from the vents?”.

We all hear about the day to day struggle, but there’s nothing like a bit of fresh perspective to throw into sharp light how trivial our struggle can be in the scheme of reality. My problems matter to me, but do they matter to anyone else? Do they even matter? Damn, I have to fix my car, but I have a car– and debt, and a roof, and for crying out loud, a piece of paper that says I know what the hell I’m talking about when I walk into the multi-million dollar downtown office I get to call work this year. Let’s talk- what am I supposed to say to the guy who comes up to me at 11:00 at night when I’m just trying to get groceries and get home to my third paper of the week, and he offers to wash my car or mow my lawn because he’s trying to get a couple of bucks to take care of his two daughters curled up in the back seat of his old Ford Explorer- I see the blankets move a little as the younger one curls closer to her nine year old sister, because let’s face it, even this close to the coast it gets cold at night, and they don’t have enough gas to drive to the motel and keep the car running while dad tries to get tomorrow’s lunch scraped together- and I explain that I don’t need any work done, and I’m a college kid trying to save for a wedding and a honeymoon, and I can understand where you’re coming from, my budget’s really tight, I’m trying to save for a cruise after all, but here, take this banana, and give this candy bar I was going to have to your daughter, and let me run over to the bank to get you guys some money so you can sleep where it’s warm tonight.

Deep breath.

We don’t struggle more or less- we struggle differently. I don’t know why we do- and I certainly don’t mind it on my own, it makes life worth living, but when someone who doesn’t deserve it or hasn’t done anything wrong, and they don’t have the resources to pull themselves up and try to get back to school to finish his art degree, because his daughter’s bellies aren’t going to fill themselves-

Deep breath again.

I don’t know. And I don’t think I want to know. Because knowing means understanding that there’s hurt and struggle that I can’t fix, and if I’m not supposed to fix it, why do I have to see it? I can’t stop seeing it- so I have to fix it.

If molecular oxygen had a directly proportional relationship to moral and social justice I would be Buddha by the end of this post. Which is coming now.


Robert Paprocki is a security and software engineer, focusing on scalable and high-performance WAF deployments. He is also an OpenResty developer and contributor, and maintains a number of OpenResty libraries, including lua-resty-waf. Follow @_p0pr0ck5_ on Twitter for more.

One thought to “On Struggle”

  1. If only we all had the answers…..struggle is out there for all of us, and will change from today to tomorrow . How you chose to face it and how he choses to face it will be the history you each pass on to your children. Can you take in the family, feed and clothe them for all time? Or can you make today better- a meal, a tank of gas, a warm blanket? Are they in true need or are they sent to focus your thinking for the day when true need is standing in front of you?

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