We all know someone who thinks everything happens for a reason. Maybe that person is you. That’s okay. It’s okay to think that every event that happens to you in your life is all part of some subtle guessing game that you need to solve, right? Maybe not.
Let’s get this straight from the start: there is nothing at the end of the tunnel. Tell yourself whatever story you want, but it’s just a story. Something you take in to forget about the fact that in the total randomness of life, we have no control over anything. It really sounds depressing, but try not to think of it that way. Think of it as freeing.
Ask anybody what they want, and whatever answer people give usually comes back to some form of freedom. Freedom from work, freedom from a bad relationship, from a oppressive governmental system, from the banality of pop culture, or anything really. We just want to be free to do what we want in our own peaceful worlds and have fun along the way. Right?
Life happens. It comes at you fast, and all you can really do is duck and weave your way to the goal line. One day you could be going one way in life, and then out of the blue, something happens and everything is turned upside down. Situations like this happen every day, both good and bad. When things happen, we like to search for a reason. We need a reason to understand why things happen the way they do. It’s as if we’re incapable of grasping the chaos and randomness of life, and need a story to tie everything together.
It makes sense. Look at the stories that all the religions have been telling for ages. The ancient Greeks had stories for why everything was the way it is. We have our own stories now. We can’t believe that things just happen. Our desire for security is so strong that we’ll tell ourselves whatever we can, even if we don’t fully believe it, to make sense of the world. Many people go with the “God’s plan” approach. This isn’t a religious article, nor a religious debate. It’s a letter to those who struggle to make sense of the world, and how to make peace with it.
So what’s a human being to do? We need to understand that sometimes things just don’t make sense. There isn’t a strong narrative to life. Think about your own life. You probably have some sort of plan or idea for what you want to do. But how many times has that plan changed? How many times have you found yourself in a situation that can only be explained by “things just happened” or “the stars aligned”? Now realize that that happens to everyone.
Things don’t always exist with meaning, just in the same way that events don’t always happen with meaning. Things just are; things just happen. So what? What does all of that have to do with you?
Well, when you realize and fully understand that things simply exist without any special meaning to them, you become free of the search for that meaning. No longer are you required to spend your energy on piecing together the world to discover your own destiny. All that becomes important is navigating the waters of randomness to wherever you want to go. There’s less to worry about. Less worries means less stress means an easier life.
But it’s not as simple as that, it’ s not like turning that switch in your brain all of a sudden makes your own experience any better. It’s all a process.
When we search for meaning in situations, what we’re really doing is integrating all our hopes, fears, desires, and the context of the situation to arrive at the next “logical” step. We’re so desperate to make sense of a situation that whatever information we can pull out of a situation, especially when we’re already searching for meaning, can make whatever message we create seem so obvious. Religious people call it a sign from God. It’s really an intuitive leap — still a good thing.
If it’s just an intuitive leap we’re making, does it really need a trigger? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If you’re looking for direction in life, or if you’re looking to answers for your questions, all you need to do is look deep inside yourself. Study your thoughts, probe your mind for the answers. They’re there. You already have all the answers to your questions. More often than not, you can arrive at your own conclusions without the need of a trigger, like an external event. However, it’s easier to allow the randomness of life bring forward an event that causes your mind to push all the information together to make you suddenly arrive at your conclusion, and because of the trigger, attribute the conclusion to the trigger. If you were to sit down and think about it, would you need the trigger at all? Why couldn’t you be your own trigger for change?
We can’t control the world, only our reactions to it.