Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Embracing the Chaos

How often do your hear, or even say, the phrase "Everything happens for a reason"?  How about, "It's God's plan"? 

Why do we want so badly to believe this, and what good does it do?

How often has something bad happened to you and you comforted yourself with the belief that it must have happened for a reason?  Did a "reason" ever make itself known to you?  Did God reveal His magical plan?  Perhaps you simply picked yourself up, dusted yourself off, found a way to move forward, and just went on with your life.   Maybe no reason truly manifested itself, but you found the strength to move on, and eventually life improved, because life can potentially improve.

It's an interesting subject for me to be thinking of right now because my life is currently at such a crossroads.  I was laid off my job of 13 years.  After doing the same thing for almost a third of my life, I have to figure out how I'm going to make my way in the world again. 

In the past few months there has been a series of rather fortunate events.  I went shopping one afternoon in a new closeout store and found the perfect interview suit for $65.  Right before I officially received my walking papers I decided to check out the job postings on a competitor website and found a job posted that is very similar to what I already do in my current field.  I applied for the job the company called me for an interview.  After the interview they called me back for a second one. 

Maybe you could say this was meant to be.  Maybe my layoff happened "for a reason" and I will get the job and be happier in it (and better paid) that I ever was at my old job.

Then again, I might get the job and hate it, and end up fired or quitting before the year is over.

I could also not get the job at all and spend months searching for something else, languishing in low-paid temp work.

This could all become a moot point if next week I trip and fall over the rim of the Grand Canyon and plummet to my death.  Would you tell my husband it happened "for a reason"?

What kind of deity sits around planning misery for each and every one of His millions of followers just so He can teach them a lesson?

I often say to people when they question why bad things happen to good people - or to them in particular-"Stop expecting the universe to make sense.  Stop looking for order.  Stop looking for cosmic justice."

You think the world really believes in cosmic justice?  If that's the case, why do we often utter phrases like, "Nice guys finish last," or "No good deed goes unpunished"?

Do you know someone who loved life, lived fairly blamelessly, had many friends and loved ones, and yet died young of cancer?  I can name three or four off the top of my head.  Do you know someone who is mean, nasty, and unhappy and living to a ripe old age?  Martin Luther King Jr. only lived to 39.  Pol Pot lived to 73 and Joseph Stalin made it to 75.  The Koch brothers certainly didn't get to their positions in life by being decent, thoughtful guys.  Being a decent person doesn't make you successful and it doesn't guarantee you a long life.  Be too decent and you're seen as a pushover who will never go anywhere.

How about in matters of the heart?  Do you know someone who is good looking, generous, smart, seriously looking for love - and still single?  Maybe you are that person.  Maybe you know someone else who is dishonest, manipulative, and greedy who is happily married.  If that person is your ex boyfriend or girlfriend, I'll give you ten points.  You will receive ten more if your ex married before you did.

I'm not saying that doing the right thing is never rewarded or that good people don't have the lives they deserve. The good don't always die young. Gandhi made it to 78 and Mother Theresa made it to 89 (although her agenda, motives, and generosity are often contested).  That old lady you helped walk across the street just might include you in her will.  Doing the right thing could very well win you acclaim.  You should certainly not stop striving to be a better person simply because there is no guarantee of reward.

Human memory is selective.  We tend to just recall the highs and lows.  We view our lives as a series of either joys or catastrophes.  We also like to think of those moments as punishments and rewards.  Rather than trying to put an order to it, see it for what it is - chaos - and embrace it.  Better yet, maybe stop trying so hard to understand the whys and hows of the highs and lows, and remember everything in between.  How can you make the middle better?

Life is short.  If you truly believe that we only get one go-around on this earth, if we stop believing in some outside force to bring payback, we will begin to realize that the power to make our lives - and the lives of others - better is in our hands.  Stop looking for reasons from the outside.  Stop hoping karma will make things right.  Stop assuming this life doesn't matter.  If you are not seeing a reason for what is going wrong in your life, make one.

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