On Things Happening for a Reason

25th January 2015

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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.

  • Laurie Marshall

    Well done! I agree with you one MILLION percent. When bad stuff happens our mettle is tested, we are given choices re: how to deal, and we either make it worse and wallow around in it and set ourselves on a course that continues to be bad, or we don’t. And therein lies our character and strength.

    So sorry about your kitty. 🙁 I know how you feel and it sucks.

    • It really does suck, haha. No one’s cat dies to teach them a lesson. It’s just… whatever it is. 🙁 Thank you!

  • Powerful words — and I agree. I know people really don’t mean anything bad (and usually just don’t know what to say), but I was shocked by some of the comments given to me when I went through a sudden tragedy a few years ago. The good thing is, I think it helped me realize some things when others go through bad times. And as Laurie mentioned below, sometimes things happen and it really sucks. And it’s okay to acknowledge that. *hugs*

    • Yeah, I think a lot of it boils down to not knowing what to say. And I think I’d be much happier with people just saying “I don’t know what to say. I am so sorry for your loss,” because that’s human and real. You don’t HAVE to say anything!

      Thanks for the hugs!

  • Jamie

    I’m not 100 percent sure how I feel about the “everything happens for a reason” thing but I do know that hearing it in a time of pain or crisis is never comforting or helpful. SO sorry about your kitty. That hurts so much 🙁