why bad things happen

My groin muscles and Achilles tendons are tight. So tight that it is difficult for me to squat without my feet splaying and my back hunching. According to my yoga teacher, this is a situation of 活该 (serves you right) because quote unquote: you americans don’t use squat toilets.


Anyway, the point of this post is the cultural perspective that make 活该 and serves you right different, even though they are used in overlapping situations.

活该 literally means “live – should be”. In other words, how you live has created this situation irrespective whether or not you have chosen this lifestyle. In contrast, serves you right pivots on the idea of “just rewards or punishment” for the choices one has made. Thus, my yoga instructor says that not using squat toilets has resulted in me having tight groin muscles and Achilles tendons – live this way and this should happen, indeed. In contrast, I’d be more likely to explain my general lack of flexibility to the fact that I don’t stretch every day. In other words, serves me right would indicate my decision not stretch caused my lack of flexibility.

活该 and serves you right both work to describe my condition, but the explanations used focus on different aspects of the situation – one the environment, the other my agency within that environment. 活该 includes the habits we acquire simply from hanging about in a particular environment. In contrast, serves you right seems to function much more on the level of poetic justice for bad choices.

So yes, I’m now actively choosing to use squat toilets and seeing it as an opportunity stretch my groin muscles and achilles tendons. Serves me right, indeed.

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