“Everything Happens for a Reason”

I often hear the phrase “Everything happens for a reason” when I talk with people about their lives. The usual context is that something unexpected, often something bad, has occurred either in the distant past or more recently, and with a philosophical shrug and a meaningful look, someone says, “But, you know, everything happens for a reason.” Then whoever I’m talking with goes on to explain what that reason was, or what it might turn out to be.

And maybe that’s true. Maybe there is a Grand Scheme and every moment of each of our lives is a predictable part of it, if only we had a broad enough perspective to perceive it. Or maybe not.

“Everything happens for a reason” seems, for many, to be a comforting thought, but I have always inwardly railed against it. I prefer to believe that, in much the same way we see figures in the shapes of clouds, everything happens, and we make meaning of it because that’s what people do.

What’s important, I think, is not the reason Fate had in mind when it made things happen, but, rather, what use we make of what has befallen us as we move on from it.

This argument is as old as the ancient Greeks. Which camp do you fall into?

I hope you’ll share your experiences and insights either here, as comments, or by emailing me your stories. If you send a story, please let me know whether you’d like me to post it with attribution or anonymously.

More anon,


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