So often I hear people remark, “Everything Happens for a reason!” as if it were pre-determined that things would happen. If that is so, it takes away meaning from most of our actions since we would therefore have no influence.
As Israel Zangill said,
Take from me the hope that I can change the future and you will send me mad.
Yes everything does happen for a reason but it is the reason that we decide. As William Shakespeare proclaimed.
Nothing is either good or bad, thinking makes it so.
This idea has a special meaning for me as a survivor of a tragic car accident where the driver and other 2 passengers were killed and I was left in a coma and temporarily paralyzed on the right side of my body. Was there really a pre-determined reason 3 young adults should be killed in an accident? As a 17 year old, after months and years of recovery I was left with the difficult question, why I am still here but my friends are not? What made it even more difficult were the caring friends peppering me with the idea that I was saved for a reason.
I had trouble with that idea because if there was such a thing as a higher power, why would 3 people have to be killed to send me that message. As Jonathan Haidt shared, a contradiction in religion is that the almighty cannot be “all powerful, all knowing, and all good”, something has to give. I was able to forge my meaning on life with the help of the wonderful little book by Harold Kushner, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People“. Notice the title is not – WHY bad things happen, just when. For those of you left with these crushing questions, I strongly recommend a read of Kushner’s book.
To create the life we want and to generate interactions so everyone and everything benefits, it seems we must move forth with purpose and meaning. Purpose and meaning is something my difficult times encouraged me to seek and it is something I continue to strive for in all I do. Life is messy and unexpected so when things do not work out as planned as often happens. Meaning has helped me and may help anyone move forward toward the goal of a better day and life for all. In these travels, it seems helpful to “forge meaning”, as Andrew Solomon explains in this TED talk. Enjoy.
In other words, we choose what things mean and it is in doing this that we can give our life value.