"Everything happens for a reason." I read this normally innocuous phrase on a friend's blog recently and wanted to toss my coffee mug. The notion of the phrase makes me want to jump out of my chair and flip my keyboard. I'm not going to rag on them for saying or even feeling it, it's simply not my place to tell people how to live their lives, however it bothers me that people who I care about in the world think like that.
I think the mentality of saying not only goes against my beliefs but undermines people's ability to excel. The phrase is a sheep-like mindset that tells us to embrace our losses instead of trying to overcome them. The nature1 of the phrase is predestination, which inherently is talking about divinity, though most often when I see people use it the meaning is less of a religious mentality2 and more an extension of sour grapes. When we over-rationalize our painful decisions or situations we become placated or fight the reoccurrence of the opportunity because it wasn't meant to be. We need some level of coping when we have perceived large losses but too much drags us down.
I quickly jumped up on the train of thought that this year's Burning Man was going to be a bomb when I was denied access to STEP3. However I never rationalized my loss to some point of divinity or told myself that there might be something better I need to make. There is no meant to be in my eyes; only what is and what is not. To this end I penciled in three furry conventions to fill my summer and replace the burn. Just a few days ago some things fell in to place and now I have access to tickets. Had I chose the meant to be mentality would I still want these tickets? Was there a reason for me to go through the extra month and a half of mental strife? No. It happened because mistakes were made. I received an opportunity to get tickets this month because of the people I choose to associate with and the impression I put on them. There was no luck in the preceding.
I am unwilling to ague the validity of anyone's religious or spiritual beliefs but I believe that the moment you take the mentality that anything but you controls and shapes your life you give up the ability to reach your full potential. Removing the accountability for your problems not only dulls the pain of the problems but also the need to own and fix the them.
I'm not going to get into the literal meaning of the phrase, because technically everything does happen for a reason. Laws of nature, inertia, influence, chemical reactions, etc. I am taking about what people mean when they say everything happens for a reason. I was unable to find the etymology in searches but according to my results it seems that the phrase most likely stems from religion. ↩
Though my mother often uses the phrase followed with "God has a plan", most of my friends don't seem to subscribe to the hyper religious mentality. ↩
I didn't enter the initial lotto, instead choosing to hold out for the full price second sales. Only people who entered the lotto for cheaper tickets where given access to STEP, the second chance ticket (re)sale system. ↩