The last thing I really want to do is write a post about my cat dying. I don’t know what useful things I have to say about that. There isn’t really anything useful to say, is there?
I could wax poetic about the transience of life, of comings and goings, beginnings and ends, but there doesn’t seem to be any poetic justice in that, either. It seems trite to attempt to summarize the love I had for a very silly, fat cat in a blog post. I don’t think I could, even if I wanted to try. So I won’t. At least not today.
But I’ve been thinking. I think about the sad things that have recently happened to me and to others. Deaths in the family. Jobs lost. Illness. Unexpected financial difficulties. General sadness. And then I think about the things that people say in response.
Amongst the standard condolences or words of encouragement, there is always at least one person who responds with one of the Old Standards of Positivity Talk:
“Everything happens for a reason.”
And I know that people mean well. I know they do. How do I know? I’ve been one of those people.
I’m sure I’ve said “well, you know, there must be a reason” to someone in a time of sadness or strangeness or confusion in life. I know I meant well. People want others to feel better. This is an irrefutable fact. And there is some strange comfort in knowing that your trial or tribulation is being used as a life lesson. I get that.
But you know what? No. Sometimes, things happen, and there is no good reason. And that’s okay. It really is.
I’d like to #wellactually myself before someone else does and clarify that, in its own way, coincidence or entropy or WHATEVER that leads to unhappy circumstances is a “reason.” Paradoxically, “no reason” is its own reason. But I digress.
What I’m trying to say is that these sad things that happen… they can be used as life lessons, if we so choose, but they are not sent to us for that express purpose. I refuse to believe that there is any being or universal process that would consciously decide to let innocent people suffer for the sake of a teachable moment.
That? That’s comforting. No one has it out for me. My cat didn’t die because I needed to learn how to say goodbye to the things I love. My cat didn’t die because some heavenly host thought I needed a kick in the pants. My friends experiencing sadness for various reasons haven’t been sent these unwanted difficulties to teach them anything. The cards just fell and they weren’t on my side this time.
Sometimes crappy things happen.
I find it powerful to be able to decide whether or not to use aforementioned crappiness as a lesson. I can take my crappy experience, my unexpected sadness, my unnecessary difficulty–and consciously choose to let it go.
Sometimes, the only explanation for negativity is that there is no explanation. It just is. It is neither here nor there. It exists. It sits there, waiting for us to decide what to do with it. It is not a lesson in and of itself, but it can be if we so choose.
I haven’t yet mastered this act of seeing things just as they are. I find myself seeking to explain away bad things, grasping for cosmic straws in an attempt to rationalize unfortunate occurrences.
It takes gumption not to explain away the bad but rather render it powerless by using it for your betterment. Not because someone else said so, but because I said so.
My cat died yesterday. I don’t want to explain it away. I want to see it as it is–full of sadness, confusion, incoherence, and anger. I want to stare it in its face and not question why. There probably isn’t a why.
And that’s okay. Really, it is.