Given a choice of several phrases that annoy me, pedantic person that I am when it gets down to un-thought-out phrases, this is one of the worst. When something bad happens to someone and they, or someone else attempts to justify it with the well trodden, often well intended, but actually somewhat meaningless phrase “well everything happens for a reason”, I almost want to punch them in the head. Does it really?
Well of course from a low level everything does happen for a reason. If I were to break my leg whilst attempting to ski, then it likely happened for several reasons. For example, I’m new to skiing, I’m not very good at it, my balance is terrible, I went over the wrong place, I attempted something I wasn’t capable of, I wasn’t watching where I was going, I didn’t know how to stop, and so on and so forth. But this isn’t usually what people mean by this phrase. They mean it in the sense of it being part of a greater plan of which we are just a pawn, or that we are only slightly aware of it, or only partially tuned in to. It is about destiny. Something bad happens, this ought to teach you some valuable lesson that leads you down a positive path, and something good happens. You have to have some good to pay for the bad. Or some magic Karma will balance it out and a good thing will happen anyway. None of this shit makes any sense to me.
The simple truth of things is that good things happen to people and bad things happen to people. On the whole the average person will roughly balance out, hopefully having what they consider to be more positive events happen in their life than negative ones. But some people will have a lot more negative ones, others much more positive ones. Although our lives are often shaped by events that we have no control of, for example to whom and where we are born, or for a different example, a random accident, that is not always the case. We are defined by how we deal with the scenarios we find ourselves in, and the choices we make. Depending on context, we can have some control over this by making good decisions, or taking opportunities if they arise. But inevitably we will miss some opportunities because we make a bad call, or we miss the opportunity due to timing, or we don’t know the right people. Some people will know the right people, get the opportunities, whether we consider them deserved or not, or have a good awareness or knowledge, and make good decisions. Some people will not. Our lives might be shaped by events or choices, but part of a greater plan? I think not. People are different and some are just more fortunate than others.
Inevitably this “reason” idea is hollow because I simply do not believe that choices are for the most part, being made for me, in a meaningful fashion. Or that if they were, that there is some logic or reasoning behind it. Let me give you an example. Let us say I lost a close friend in a car accident when I was 20 years old (I didn’t but stay with me, this is based on a real example). I was somewhat consumed by grief but eventually I got over it, and made some good decisions. What would this be teaching me? That I should do something positive with my life? I should not ride in a car. Let’s say my friend was a good person, who did charitable work. The person was not a great driver, but that said, they were not to blame, and a drunk driver hit them. What does it mean? The drunk driver ought to learn a severe lesson in their life? But what relevance does that have to the dead person? Is the drunk, a higher priority life, that someone must die to teach them a valuable life lesson? What about the life that died? What if they did nothing to deserve it?
To put that a different way, if you could talk to the person who passed away just prior to the event itself and tell them they were about to die, but not to worry, it is happening for a reason, just probably one you won’t understand, what do you think they would say? Maybe, “I don’t think this reason is good enough”. Or something along the lines of “But I still have so much to do”? Or more likely, “what was this highly important reason”?
It actually happened because of someone drinking when inebriated, and one person was unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or just in a place, at the wrong time. Try telling the families of recent shooting tragedies that these terrible event happened for a “greater” reason. Some might be eventually inspired in a positive way, but I would hazard a guess that many feel like their lives have been destroyed, parents with their children, never having the chance to fulfill much of their potential. Be positive to move on but don’t patronise with “part of a greater plan” reasoning.
I don’t believe there is any plan to life other than what you create for yourself out of the situations you find yourself in. For some this will be horrifically bad, for some the opposite, and mostly good. For most, if you want to get somewhere in life then you need to get about achieving it. Do some positive things, learn something, educate yourself to the various environments you inhabit. Learn when something goes wrong, accept it and use that lesson on a later opportunity. Sometimes things will happen that are out of your control. That doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong, although it might. It doesn’t mean you were the victim of a choice you were not aware of, although it might. But I just cannot reason how it could be possibly be part of this fabled “reason” or greater plan. It is just something you will have to deal with, in your own way, when you are capable of doing so. Be brave, you only have the one life. Take control and realise it is you who can make it better.
And now for something completely different:
Today is the one year anniversary of the blog. Yep Happy Birthday blog me. So to celebrate, here is Elbow covering the Destiny’s Child track “Independent woman”, set to a Joel Veitch animation with cats. How is it related? It isn’t, I just thought I would remind people it exists:
Or see the original here at Joel’s brilliant site http://www.rathergood.com/independent_woman.