I have become one of those people who believes that old, clichéd credo: “Everything happens for a reason.”
I always eschewed this idea. I thought you made your own fate. I thought that every action has a reaction, and that the things you did were up to you. You planned and plotted the course of your life. There was no such thing as destiny, or fate.
But now, I’m not so sure. It’s not that I believe that God, or whatever, has some plan for everyone. I don’t believe that for a second, actually. But I do believe – am coming to believe, really – that things happen in the way they’re supposed to.
I don’t want to say that terrible things like cancer and violence happen for a reason. That is simply not true. I don’t think a higher power gives those hurdles to people who can “handle it.” Those things are beyond my control and beyond my contemplation. I don’t know why those things happen, and I wish I could stop them. But I can’t.
It’s like that quote people constantly misattribute to Marilyn Monroe: “Things fall apart so better things can fall together.” It’s not a bad idea, really. Bad things happen to good people, people break each other’s hearts. Your friendships unravel. You fall victim to little stumbling blocks, but you build yourself right back up again. Bad things happen and you find out who your friends are, discover who’s got your back and who you can leave behind. You meet people who lead you to new opportunities, new discoveries. You meet people, find them, because you’re supposed to meet them, because they’re going to bring something valuable to your life and it’s up to you to figure out what it is. I keep a packet of Thank You cards with me for these people and send them a note when I figure out just exactly how valuable they are.
Something horrible happens to everyone. It’s inescapable. Like Forrest Gump said, shit happens. These terrible experiences differ from person to person; what’s awful to me might be easy to conquer for you. We can’t play the “one-up” game with that sort of thing. But they make you grow, and they open your eyes a little wider. You gain that perspective your parents and teachers were always telling you about. Everything you do has a consequence, negative or positive, and it teaches you something.
So maybe everything does happen for a reason. Maybe every breakup, every relapse, every broken heart and misstep happens because it’s leading you to something better, to something more worthwhile. I don’t know for sure, but I have faith in it. You have to have faith, this much I know.