I call bullshit on the “everything happens for a reason” trope because it’s a tired, powerless ideation. The hard truth is bad things happen by accident or chance…
For ages, I wasn’t sure what to think when people said, “everything happens for a reason” because it seems like such a flaccid, wishy-washy statement. What’s worse are those who state, “If things go wrong it’s to teach you a lesson.” Last time I checked, situations aren’t animate entities that behave just like our parents. I think it’s dangerous to buy into the idea that every misstep or misfortune is a Universe-induced punishment or Sesame Street teaching moment. Sometimes shit happens because that’s what shit does. It hits the fan or we fall into a pile of it.
There is no rhyme or reason as to why annoying and/or bad things happen to good people.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying a fair share of misfortune or hardships aren’t linked to us (per se) at all. We simply take things too personally when we get sidelined or mishandled. We think it’s all about us when something starts sliding down the drain at a clip. The only difference is the person over there looks to the sky and laments why their higher being rains down hellfire. If you’re like me, you sit on your yoga mat for hours and wonder what’s wrong with you. How could the outcome have been altered?
I suppose it’s natural to want a scapegoat to bring to the slaughterhouse. It feels better, after all, if we think we have some semblance of control over death and destruction, job losses and bad romance. But I’m finally calling bullshit on the “everything happens for a reason” trope. It’s a tired, powerless ideation that conceals the following truth: bad things happen by accident or chance, and it often isn’t really about you, or me, or them, or her, or him.
The harder truth is when we find out a certain amount of fuckery is linked to people who have checked out or are too busy thinking about themselves. None of us can control the weather, much less the thoughts and actions of the 7.5 billion others on the planet (at least not yet). I can only do my best to mitigate unfortunate outcomes, knowing there’s no guarantee I’ll succeed. If life’s a balancing act it means it’s impossible to always stay grounded. Financial trouble, relationship angst, illness, death, and natural disasters make that a fact.
And as much as we want to point the finger elsewhere (even if blame is deserved) it doesn’t do us good in the long run. Bemoaning all the things will eventually suffocate, stripping us of breath. You’ll run into the muck unless you choose to live waaaay off the grid. Hell, even then you might have a run-in with a bear or a poisonous berry that makes you go blind. Looking for reasons why we go through X and Y is a distraction. We have a hard time accepting life is sometimes a sweet meadow, as well as a bloodied battleground.
Maybe there’s a lesson after all, which is to accept that shit happens. Doing so grants us the clemency to, now and then, stay on the floor and eat dirt until we’re ready to get up and start moving again. When that time comes we’ll be a bit wiser and sharper around the edges (if we’re lucky). Hopefully, we’ll be smarter about those we trust and the various investments we make.
What’s almost certain is gaining a heightened ability to roll with the punches. We’ll be more adept at dusting ourselves off and setting boundaries that are harder to breach. Avoiding adversity is impossible but getting unstuck isn’t the stuff of fairytales. It involves the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other and trusting the process enough to take things on a day-by-day basis.
Header photo: @mermaid_urielle.