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 like parents. It is dangerous to buy into the idea that every misstep or misfortune is Higher Being/Universe-induced punishment or a Sesame Street teaching moment. Sometimes shit happens because that’s what shit does. It hits the fan, we catch a whiff, or fall into a pile.
There is no rhyme or reason as to why annoying and/or bad things happen to “good” people.
I’d go as far as saying that a fair share of misfortune or hardships aren’t linked to us (per se) at all. Real talk? We simply take things too personally when 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 Higher Being rains down hellfire while, if you’re like me, you sit on your yoga mat for hours and wonder what the hell is wrong with you. Why aren’t things working? How could the outcome have been altered?
It’s natural to want a scapegoat you can lead 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 romances. But I’m finally calling bullshit on the “everything happens for a reason” trope. The tired, powerless ideation that conceals the following truth: Bad things happen by accident or chance. And it often isn’t about you or me, them or us.
A certain amount of fuckery is always linked to those who have either checked out or are too busy thinking about themselves.
No one can control the weather, much less the thoughts and actions of the 7.7+ 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 that means it is impossible to always be grounded. The ouroboros of financial trouble, relationship angst, illness, death, natural disasters, professional disappointments, ups and downs of finding meaning, and occasional droughts of joy or satisfaction are all testament to this fact.
And as much as we want to point the finger elsewhere (even if blame is deserved), it doesn’t result in any good in the long run. Bemoaning all the things eventually suffocates, stripping us of quality breath. Running into the muck is bound to happen unless you choose to live waaaay off the grid. Hell, even there you might have a run-in with a wild bear, hungry hippo, tainted water, or poisonous berry that causes you to go blind. Constantly searching for reasons as to why we experience ‘X’ and ‘Y’ is merely distraction. The real challenge is accepting that life is one part sweet meadow and two quarters bloodied battleground.
Maybe the lesson is accepting 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 once again. When the time comes we’ll hopefully be a bit wiser and sharper around the edges. Ideally, 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, moment-to-moment basis.
Header photo: @mermaid_urielle.