Everything happens for a reason. You’ve heard it before, probably from someone who was doing far better than you at the moment. You listened because you had to. Maybe you even became one of the people who says that whenever something shitty happens. Maybe you dismissed it and feel a secret pang of nausea whenever anyone else says it to you.
I remember the mind-opening feeling of first hearing that phrase, somewhere in the desert near California. It came from the mouth of an old hippie. The “everything” was an oil leak that was holding up our hippie schoolbus from a sage-gathering mission, and the “reason” was the stunning view of the mountains at sunrise that we wouldn’t have seen if the leak didn’t hold us up.
He meant more than that, but in the moment, that was how my inner equation was putting it. I tried to live by it, I tried to see each problem as “everything” and every subsequent good thing as “a reason.”
Thinking this phrase to myself now just makes me feel like a petty jerk who is looking at the sunny side of life like I used to look at Tofurkey when I was a vegan. Trying to convince myself that this bland and tasteless substance was the real juicy thing. Everything happens for a reason bothers me deeply, mostly because people tend to say it to ward off the feeling of “bad” and welcome in some sick imitation of the feeling of “good.” But it’s not the real thing.
At the same time, I absolutely cannot deny the fact that sometimes, things do seem to happen for a freaking reason. You make a random stop at a gas station on your way to the grocery store when you don’t even need gas, and then you run into some long-lost friend at the store when you finally get there. You break up with your boyfriend and find a lover, only to then learn that they are friends from long ago. You get the feeling that you need to go to a particular coffee shop, and then find that a friend from far away happens to be there that moment. These things happen to everyone. Is there any sense in it?
My theory is that the universe has an amazing sense of humor, and it is not always good. But it is there. The more you pay attention to it and play along, the more the universe seems to show you its crazy self. Perhaps it is shy. Perhaps it has moods. Perhaps there is a moon that governs its universe-sized menstrual cycle. Who knows. The point is, it is doing something.
Everything happens for a reason. However, it’s not always for a good one that makes everyone happy in the end. What is the end, anyway? The results of the actions you take today can take years to lead to “a reason.” The reason may even have nothing to do with you. The carton of milk that you decided to not get might have changed the timing of the next shipment of milk which then may have prevented a truck driver from hitting a dear on the 80, but you’ll never know. No one will. That’s not the point.
The point is perhaps to see the universe like a friend. Sure, it has some bad moods. It also has some strange tendencies and a sense of humor that sometimes borders on psychotic. But it can tell some pretty good jokes, and play its part in creating some rather interesting stories. If you only paid attention to the positive aspects of your friends, you wouldn’t have them for long. You have to listen to their problems, let them vent, sometimes you even need to let them smash things while you wait for them to calm down.
I think the universe is the same way. Let it do it’s thing, and pay attention to all of the aspects. Running away from the “everything” and always searching for the “reason” is only going to make you piss people off when they are having a hard time with things. Let things be hard. Let things be bad. Feelings and circumstances do a much better job of moving on when they can just be as they are without having to conform to some idea of happening for a reason.