In the last weeks, when my spouse needed help getting around, almost everybody told me it was “meant to be,” and that “there is a reason for everything.” I’m taking a big step outside my comfort zone here, and I’m going to say, “I don’t think so.”
The “reason for everything” phrase seems to me to be a way to avoid critical thinking, push unexplained events out of the realm of real-world and into the world of religion. And once it’s in the world of religion, it falls into the crack of fate, dusted over by the will of some special god.
I’m a spiritual person. But my kind of spirituality allows for not knowing everything, questioning things I don’t know, and leaves a lot of room for dumb mistakes, personal wrong-doing, evil people and tragic events that are not of a divine retribution or even a divine cause that we are to untangle like a thin-chain gold necklace, till the knots are out and we can wear it again. Wow. That sentence has 68 words, and I teach my writing classes that a sentence should have a maximum of 16 words. Must be a reason for that. See? There isn’t. I just rattled on.
And my spouse tripped over the cat, who was not divinely placed for some larger learning, he was just asleep under the fan.
Now, if those “everything has a reason” people puzzled over what the meaning is, I could understand it. But the phrase has become a way to avoid thinking, to shove the responsibility into a divine realm, where it cannot be questioned. And should not be. And that’s the part I have trouble with.
I don’t want to wander through my life, blindly believing there is a reason for everything but having no idea what that reason is. I want to know. If there is a lesson, I want to learn it. Otherwise, trips happen.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing to companies that are having trouble being heard or making themselves clear. She teaches PowerPoint for what it was meant to do–explain through words and images, rather than bullet points. Quinn is also a life- and creativity coach who helps people through change. She teaches people who can’t draw how to keep art journals.