Everything Happens for a Reason

In 2010 I lost my job, my house, and most of my worldly possessions. These events were bookended by having my heart broken and putting down my dog.

“Everything happens for a reason,” some might say. And it is true that my actions contributed directly to the tenure being denied and the house burning down. Thor was going to die anyway, though even that would have happened later if I hadn’t made the decision for him that he had endured enough. Similarly, the heart-breaking woman and I had endured enough as well.

Those truths aside, I don’t believe that there is someone up in the sky that is directing the goings on down here on Earth. I also find offensive the notion that bad things happen to people for a reason, that somehow those things were deserved. The way the story goes, the bad stuff that happened to that Job guy in the Bible happened because a cruel and capricious God made a bet with Satan. I have to wonder why someone would want to honor a God who would do such a thing. Sure, after the bet was won, Job ended up with new fortunes and new children to make up for those that Satan took away, but it still seems like a pretty crappy thing to do to someone who’s doing everything right. That story is certainly not one that makes me think that everything happens for a reason.

Somewhere along my trip, I met someone who believed that things happen for a reason, and that belief brought her peace. There is peace in believing that one’s current situation, no matter how bad, has happened for some future good, and that in time the silver lining will be revealed. Some eastern religions similarly embrace the notion that enlightenment comes from learning to embrace the world as it is rather than some other world. That makes some sense to me.

I could, for example, long for a world in which fewer publications are required for tenure and candles are, in fact, extinguished. Oh, and in this world dogs live forever and people I fall in love with have the same conception of what love is that I do. That world does not exist. I cannot be angry that I lost my job and my house burned down any more than I can be angry that I cannot fly. Actually, I am a little pissed about that. I was pretty sure we would have flying cars by now.

I do not embrace the belief that things happen for a reason–that somehow what I really needed was to lose everything in order to find a better life. I imagine–even still–I could be happy in that other world in which I had a wife, family, career, and the lifetime’s worth of possessions that I lost, and maybe even a dog.

In this world, though, my life is much better than I ever could have imagined. My retirement cannot last forever. I do hope that I acquire some source of income while I still have enough money for some furniture and a sizable down payment on a diminutive house. Right now, though, it’s sixty degrees and sunny. I’m going to stop writing and go walk on the beach.

A castle I found

This entry was posted in All. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Everything Happens for a Reason

  1. Brinton Adams says:

    Met a guy at a PHISH show who encapsulated a certain approach to life, which I have to admit does not sound all that bad: “Just trying to live the life that is completely free.”
    P.S. I don’think he came up with this on his own but it seem(s)(ed) pretty relevant.

  2. Howell says:

    I am not sure everything happens for a reason, but I do believe in karma, there have been a few life changes in my life that I absoulutly did not understand at first. But some time later, I saw something that made sense of it all. It takes a while to see it though.

    • Shelley says:

      I believe in karma too because it seems like every time I pass judgment on someone for a decision they made, I soon get faced with having to make a very similar decision.

  3. trena says:

    People seem programmed to really, really want to *find* reasons and patterns in the chaos around them. It seems to be part of how people make sense of the world. Realizing we have so little control over what goes on around us compels us to hope there’s a higher power of some sort that does have control and has some sort of plan. (Doubtful, but I see why people want to believe that.)

  4. Jerry says:

    When I see a nature show, and I am watching the lion pounce on an antelope and eat it, I don’t think “I bet that antelope was a sinner–probably sleeping around with other antelopes behind his antelope wife’s back.” Likewise when the antelope gets away, I do not think that the lion deserves to go hungry because he covets his neighbor’s lioness. But in my own human existence, I constantly look for meaning in the things that happen to me. I look for the lesson I am supposed to learn. I want my life to mean something. Whether it actually does or not outside of my own consciousness is really beside the point. I will say that if the world is totally naturalistic and random and we are all adrift on a sea of meaninglessness, then all we have is each other, and we should therefore be nice. I will also say that I don’t know if any of the conclusions I come to about existence are right, but I would be willing to bet that many of them are wrong. I am very comfortable being wrong.

  5. Mike says:

    I think “SHIT” happens. Sometimes it’s our fault and sometimes it just happens. Either way, we all have to suck it up and move forward.

  6. helen says:

    What Mike says. Could not agree more.

  7. pfaffman says:

    Mike is quite a sage.

  8. pfaffman says:

    The point of this piece was the first sentence in the last paragraph:

    In this world, though, my life is much better than I ever could have imagined.

    I’m having the time of my life. That with a side of “I might not have expected it” was supposed to be the take-away message.

  9. helen says:

    I met a woman who took a job at 18 working for Brushy Mountain prison (state employee). She is 52 and is retired. She seems pretty fucking happy. She said they sent her to college and she got a degree in philosophy for the hell of it.

Comments are closed.