Is anyone else sick and tired of hearing, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ every time something bad occurs? The implication, that there is some cohesive, universal force that assigns a logical intelligence to everything is such a bunch of crap, as though the bad thing happened in order for the good thing to occur.

It is also a way to deny you permission to be pissed when some catastrophe appears on the horizon. If shit happens for a reason, and you simply haven’t figured out what that reason is, then the fault lies with you, and you must begin searching until you can find something good to extract from the awful event that you are tacitly—and often verbally– told you must accept with good grace.

I don’t buy it! I used to. I was even one of the people berating others for not seeking the good stuff in the pile of crap. But one day I moved out of Stepford and came to my senses. Our time on earth is too short for us to pretend, to not be who we truly are. That being said, I am not lost to the idea that pretense and the illusion of meaning make certain people feel less afraid.

However, the universe is not nicely ordered; it is crazy and random and sometimes scary. And extraordinarily little has meaning until we assign meaning. We decide whether something is good, bad, happy, sad, a life lesson, emotional growth producing–not the universe, or whatever you choose to believe controls what happens to us. That is a harsh truth to accept, that life is random, that you can be a good person and still suffer hardship out of all proportion to what you ‘deserve.’ But no one gets what they ‘deserve,’ life is not fair and tragedy can happen at any time, randomly, to anyone, even if that person has yet to recover from the last horrible event.

But again, not an easy concept to embrace. We prefer to think that someone, something, is paying attention and keeping score. So some people do their best to read meaning into the ordinary shitty things that occur every day. If you must do that, fine, but would you please keep it to yourself? Because too many people in our society believe that if you are a person dogged by misfortune, then it is somehow your fault. And no one needs to be told that, to be made to feel even worse about their life.

So no, when crap rains down on me, I will not accept it with a smile and make everyone feel in control by repeating a statement utterly outside the bounds of reality, ‘It must have happened for a reason. We may not know what that reason is, but someday, hopefully, we will.’ The key word being ‘hopefully,’ of course.

Then, and only then will we be rewarded with moral support and encouragement. The depressed, angry, resentful part of our reaction to tragedy must be suppressed so others can say we are handling our misfortune with dignity, which for some reason is important to some individuals. We even expect it from dying children. It is just another way of saying our true emotions, especially the negative ones, are unacceptable. I’ve spent way too long in therapy for that.