a bit quite mad when I first wrote this post. Please note that I am from France… I don’t know if it is the Latin blood or just a cultural thing but French people are notorious for being incessant loud complainers with very short patience fuses – think about it, the guillotine was invented so we could expedite cutting off all the heads of those that had pissed us off… Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go all crazy when I’m mad, I don’t scream at the top of my voice while dishing out insults or throwing dishes (I save that for friendly discussions about politics. Just kidding). But I have a bit of an on-off switch. I’m usually perfectly good with everything, including the very different opinion that you might have (I agree to disagree); but I can go from 0 to 100 in 2 seconds flat (yup, I’m better than a sports car in that way too!) – straight to full on pissed off mode. On the positive side, I get really quickly back to normal once I made it clear I was upset, and I don’t hold grudges. I have been told I have a “very direct mode of communication” – well, that’s a very sweet way to say it, thank you… So anyway, I was mad and to exorcise it I wrote. If I sound too abrasive, it’s probably because I was in explosive mode – so mentally tone it down a notch for me if necessary, will you?
Oh, and I know this is a photography blog so there, a few photos I took of my girls looking mad. Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments box or to tell me what pisses you off today – then we can turn this blog into a soap box and take turns 🙂
So I would like to say this. I believe that everything does NOT always happen for a reason. And I’d like to make a plea for us to stop saying that. I’ve used that sentence in the past so I know we say it to comfort people and to comfort ourselves. I know it’s said with love. Something really bad is happening and so we think “everything happens for a reason”, as if it will make it more bearable to think that in the future, we might find a justification for the madness of the present. And we believe it, we really do!! We want to believe it. Well, I’ve come to realise that it’s major self-delusion if you ask me. Well meant, best of intentions and all – but still, BS. Pardon my French. A way to help us cope; to make up for not managing to make sense of something that actually never could make sense; a way to excuse ourselves from being unable to say anything else that might be of comfort. There before us stands someone in the eye of the cyclone that their life suddenly has become: “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY???????” – everything happens for a reason… NO!!!
Before you all get mad at me and argue fiercely against this, let me say that I suspect there is an issue of Language and mistaken causality here and that you and I, in fact, probably very much agree – I will explain in a second so stick with me. But first, consider this:
“Everything happens for a reason” does not help the couple that has been trying for years to have a baby. The girl is “the problem”, she never really cared since she found out in a white room at 22 as she had decided at 16 she would adopt anyway; she hadn’t anticipated she’d marry a boy who was scared of adoption. When you shoot yourself up with hormones daily, have blood tests every other day that ruin your veins so bad you wear long sleeves T-shirts in the summer so that people don’t mistake you for a junkie, when you have to undergo medical procedures that make your husband cry because he can’t bear to watch you go through the pain over and over again, you don’t want to hear “Everything happens for a reason” – trust me. Sometimes couples get lucky and it works but their child is NOT the reason – their child is the consequence. And what about the couple that never gets that lucky? It is unfair and it makes no sense but I sure as hell can not think of a “reason” for which they are deprived of something that their heart so desired and of which they would have been so worthy.
Do you see yourself say “Everything happens for a reason” to the new parents who find out their baby is born with a condition/handicap so severe that they will never be able for instance to reach an autonomous adulthood? A friend of mine dated this guy who did. He believed “God had made those children” so that they could remind HIM to appreciate how healthy and “perfect” his own children were. WHAT??!! I don’t even really want to go into how incredibly self-centered that statement is. Now, will the parents of that child know the same joy as any other parents would, as well as a whole other range of experiences that will enrich and possibly bring even more good tot their lives next to the hardship? I have no doubt – but it’s not the reason! Again, it’s the consequence… Btw may I state on the record I am kind of glad my friend broke it off with that guy since then, because can you imagine he and I sitting at dinner some day soon having a friendly discussion about politics (see above reference)? 🙂
When I heard Oprah say about the Sandy Hook tragedy that it happened for a reason and that the reason for the death of those 20 little angels as she called them was so that there would be a dialogue about gun control, I couldn’t help but think, you’re kidding me, right? Gun control talk = Yes! But I really doubt the families suffered any less reflecting on that or agreed with her for that matter… I’m guessing “Everything happens for a reason” isn’t really going to comfort the man who just lost his wife of 40 years either. Or my friend’s neighbor who woke up two weeks ago next to her dead 30-something years old husband who passed in his sleep, with 3 young kids in the other room. Or the wonderful family I know that I just saw last Friday whose precious daughter took her own life this summer. Because nothing like that happens for a reason.
Now if you believe in a God that has your fate in its control, if you believe Destiny is pre-established before you’re even born – well, clearly you will think I’m seriously misguided and we will just have to agree to disagree. If you think we do have choice and control of our actions and lives, then I know that still quite a few people will say – but things really do happen for a reason because bad stuff often leads to something really amazing that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. And you’re right!!! But it’s the causality that is wrong here. Our brains often mistake causes and consequences, or even harder to distinguish, correlation and causality (you know the story of “the more ice creams are sold in Chicago, the more murders are committed”, right?… If you don’t, google is your friend). Let me try to give you an example here because I know that some of my closest friends will give me hell for this post if I don’t manage to get my point across properly to them.
You’re walking in the street with a brand new silk shirt. It starts raining (that’s the bad thing). Let’s look at 2 scenarios:
1) You forgot your umbrella. The sudden thunderstorm drenches your outfit and we all know silk does not like water. You look within seconds like a wet rat, you break a heel and fall trying to run for cover and feel pathetic. Suddenly this hot guy runs to your rescue, helps you out, offers his umbrella and coat. Fast forward 3 years, you’re married to your dream man. Everything happens for a reason (if it hadn’t rained and you hadn’t forgotten your umbrella, you would have never met him!!!!).
2) You thought of bringing your umbrella. You silk shirt is safe. Two years later you go out to a dinner party and sit next to your friend’s cousin who just moved to town. He’s really funny. Fast forward 3 years, you’re married to your dream man. Everything happens for a reason (if it hadn’t rained and you hadn’t thought of bringing your umbrella you would have never met him!!!! – cause you would have met the other guy…).
There is always something good that will follow any (bad) situation in life. Meeting the hot guy isn’t the reason that it started to rain. It didn’t start to rain for a reason. Meeting the hot guy is the consequence of it starting to rain and you having your umbrella with you or not.
Maybe we’re just slightly off the mark here, maybe what we all mean to say is something like “something good can follow something bad”, better yet “there’s a lesson to be learned from everything” – now, I’m much more down with that. I do believe you can learn something from (almost?) any experience in life, even and maybe particularly so from the painful ones; even if it sometimes takes a huge amount of time; even if sometimes you think, HEY, I could have learned that in a much less painful way, thank you very much. I’m sorry if it feels like I’m being picky with words – but language makes a big difference to how people perceive what you’re trying to say to them. It can be incredibly painful to hear certain things despite the best of intentions.
There were moments I didn’t really know what to say last Friday. Kind of, but I tripped on my own words, on my own thoughts… I wish I could have been more eloquent. Maybe this above expresses better what I had in my head. Maybe. Not so sure. There are times where you just know no regular conversation, no small talk, no cliche nor deep carefully though-out philosophical statements will do. What do you say to the mother who lost her child a few months ago? “How are you doing?” ?… I did (I know), immediately followed up by “Wow, well, that was probably the dumbest question ever, sorry”. She said “Yes it kind of is”… But she also said “That’s ok, we could use some laughter”. Sometimes there is nothing easy to say so we are out of our comfort zone or we don’t dare; we are afraid of trying; we give up. We say nothing. You know what, I might be wrong, but I still think we should try – failure is better than absence. If nothing easy comes to mind, how about any of these to say you’re just unsure of how to be, if you mean it of course: I can’t possibly know how much pain you are in. I’m in pain too. I’m here for you when you need me. I’m here for you whichever way you need me. I don’t know what to say but I don’t want you to think it’s because I don’t really care. I don’t know what to say, I feel so uncomfortable but I do care. I don’t know what to say. I love you. Or maybe you don’t say anything, you just show that you are there. To me, that kind of honesty is more meaningful than anything, it’s more meaningful than “everything happens for a reason”.
“Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY???????” – I don’t know.