Do Things Happen For A Reason?

Broken sprinkler, broken dreams.

Broken sprinkler, broken dreams.

Two days ago my daughter put on one hell of a performance. She marched out of her room and screamed at me in a way that she hasn’t done before. There was lightning flashing in her eyes and fire coming from her nose and not much that I could do about it. She screamed, “I hate you” and then jumped on my lap and burst into tears.

She doesn’t want to move. Ask her and she’ll tell you that the house is perfect and that I am capable of fixing anything that is broken. In her eyes I am superman and capable of doing anything I want. I appreciate it and want so very badly to live up to her expectations but there are some things that I can’t do. I can’t fly. I can’t lift the car with one hand and I can’t see the future.

All I can do is try and make good choices based upon the things I know and what I can guess will happen. All I can do is my best to make good decisions for my children. So that means that sometimes hard and very painful decisions must be made with the hope that things will work out.

These kids of mine don’t need all of the details or reasons why things are as they are. I could tell them that there are criminals in the banking system whose greed is causing untold damage throughout the country. But then I would want to have a bigger discussion about capitalism and business. I’d want to launch into a longer talk about what is right and what is fair and how there are significant distinctions. I’d want to say that sometimes you don’t do something just because you can, but she is 7 and these aren’t discussions that she needs to have now.

I don’t walk around railing about how I have been unfairly victimized and mistreated. But sometimes in the dead of the night in between the cracks and creaks of the house I wonder if things happen for a reason. I wander outside and sit under a moonlit sky and let my thoughts run where they may and I listen.

And sometimes I find myself feeling like maybe there is something more speaking to me. It is a soft whisper that I can barely make out that suggests that maybe I pay more attention to this or that. The problem is that trying to focus upon is a little bit like squeezing water in the palm of your hand. Squeeze too tightly and it slips out between your fingers leaving you with a damp trail that provides faint evidence that it was ever there. So I shrug my shoulders and try to apply logic to what I feel.

On the whiteboard that lives inside my head I prepare a list of things and ask if they could have come from coincidence or something more. Sometimes the answer is clearly yes and I think that nothing amazing or unusual has happened because XYZ could happen to anyone at any time.

Yet, every now and then I find that I am unable to just blow things off and I scratch my head because there aren’t explanations for what I experienced. So I have to ask if my mind sees what I want it to see or if maybe there is something more.

It is your turn now. Do you think that things happen for a reason or is life a series of coincidences that look like they could be something more?

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  1. TheJackB July 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    @Hajra Hi Hajra. I think that I follow what you are saying. Ultimately I take a position that what matters most is how we choose to act and react to the things that happen. For me it feels better to say that I have control over how my life is going to be lived and should it happen that some things are meant to be, well they’ll happen anyway. But at least I have done my best to live well.

  2. Hajra July 16, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Hey Jack,

    Definitely, I think everything happening around us or to us, has a reason. A reason to cause some change maybe, to make us stronger, to make our choices, to think, to reason, to feel, to be aware. The things that are happening maybe for better or for worse but that is wherein the reason for their whole occurrence lies. It is like saying, why do we study, why do we go to seek education…to bring about the change in us, to adjust. And thus, even things that happen to us, have a purpose. Now, how we face the external phenomenon is totally unto us…that is a totally different story.

    Did I makes sense?

  3. TheJackB July 16, 2011 at 12:14 am

    @Lori Hey Lori. I dance in the fire because it is where I seem to live. I think that this is definitely a teaching moment and we’re just working hard to make it as smooth as possible.

    The hardest part is trying to let the things I have no control over go. It is not easy, but this will eventually pass.

  4. TheJackB July 16, 2011 at 12:12 am

    @bernthis Thank you. I just try to take it all day by day and do what I can. There are limits to what we can do but those limitations don’t necessarily have to stop us from getting where we want to go.

    The joy of being a stubborn man is that I don’t give up. Keep fighting, things are bound to turn for all of us.

  5. bernthis July 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I loved this Jack. You know what I’m going through and I’m on the same page. I have to believe that things happen for a reason, it’s what helps me get out of bed every morning. I do what I can and then I leave the rest up to the universe. I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this but know this much: no matter where you live there are people out in the world who respect and admire you, love you for exactly who you are and where you are.

  6. TheJackB July 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    @KDillabough I am. Ask johnfalchetto and he’ll tell you that you can find me around at all hours.

  7. TheJackB July 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    @marianne.worley I tend to agree with you. It is a funny thing to me, because I believe in G-d- but biology makes more sense to me. Maybe it is because it is more concrete and tactile.

  8. Lori July 15, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Ah Jack, I definitely believe things happen for a reason. I HAVE to believe that! I’ve always felt that once we looked behind us ont the road we would be able to see clearly why and how much good had come of it. Are there detours or are the detours the path?

    I can empathize with your daughter and with you. This economy hasn’t been good for my business. I’ve done all I can do and I haven’t quit yet but it’s not as much fun as it was before the crash. It put me on a better path, though, and that was for the BEST reason.

    The most important thing is the family, though. Can this be a teaching experience for her too – look how we handle unwanted circumstances, look how we tackle it as a family, let’s look for the good to come out of it together.

    Now I know where you’re dancing today.


  9. KDillabough July 15, 2011 at 7:38 am

    @TheJackB Stay active, my friend:)

  10. Faryna July 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

    @TheJackB Absolutely. We tend to remember the heart breaks more than the triumphs. Because if the heart breaks were that overwhelming, our world would be a wasteland. And, in fact, it is not. It is still a beautiful world…

  11. TheJackB July 15, 2011 at 7:28 am

    @NamasteMamaRose To paraphrase Led Zeppelin I am a traveler through time and space just wondering what this big blue marble has to teach me. I don’t do well with just accepting things so I blog about them.I think that your comment about not allowing bad things to become the reason to live life on crutches is spot on. It seems to me that even if there is nothing more than coincidence out there the benefit of asking and discussing the question provides the learning experience. Thanks so much for being a part of it. Hope you visit again.

  12. TheJackB July 15, 2011 at 7:20 am

    @KDillabough Very sorry for your friend’s loss. As a parent that is our biggest nightmare and I have read more than a few posts that the parents of lost children have written. They are words that rend the heart and tear the soul.

    My daughter screamed at me and then cried on my shoulder so I am not worried about what she thinks of me. Frankly she could stay angry and I would be sad but ok. We make the best decisions we can make and hope that they work for us.

    Still, in the midst of all this I can’t help ask these questions and be grateful for the discussion. These moments are what make up a life and part of what drives my love for blogging.

    The opportunity to take raw emotion and serve it upon a cyberscreen plate has more value for me than I can express. And I can’t tell you how much I agree about “do” being the operative word.

    I don’t know how to just lie down and take it, so being active is important to me.

  13. TheJackB July 15, 2011 at 7:13 am

    @StartYourNovel The hardest experiences in my life have always yielded benefits. Moments of uncertainty, questions, anger and pain make me a better writer. They push me to be more and I can’t say that I am ungrateful for that.

    I like your comment about sometimes requiring hindsight to see what the lesson was. That makes sense to me. I understand that because I have been through it.

    I try not to get too caught up in some of this because I don’t believe that there are always explanations. Read through my blog and you’ll see lots of mentions of my friend ‘D.” We buried him 13 years ago at age 29. None of that makes sense.

    But if we can learn from it than we can try to make something good out of the senseless or at least that is my hope.

  14. TheJackB July 15, 2011 at 7:08 am

    @KimDavies Hi Kim. It is nice to see you here. I am ok with my daughter yelling at me. That comes with the job. I have broad shoulders for a reason. My kids will adapt and probably shrug this off faster than I will. It will take time to let go of the anger that is just below the surface.

    I am very sorry for your losses. Those are real and painful.

    For now I am just focused upon the immediate future and trying to recognize when opportunity presents itself.

  15. TheJackB July 15, 2011 at 7:04 am

    @Faryna Hi Stan. Your comment about good intentions touches upon a discussion that I have had many times. Good intentions never secure good outcome and that throws people.

    I don’t think that I agree with our hearts breaking more often than not. I think that it is often more noticeable than when something lifts us up. For whatever reason we sometimes have trouble recognizing how many good things our hearts experience.

    But that bigger game you speak of, that is something that I am trying to integrate more completely into my life.

  16. NamasteMamaRose July 15, 2011 at 6:47 am

    What a great post. I agree, your writing is poetic, and you definitely pose a great question. I believe we are thrown many “coincidences” and “fates” in life that stay just that unless we are willing to learn from them. They remain merely a coincidence until we see how they apply to our lives – then it becomes a reason – I hope, though, that a reason does not become an excuse – don’t let bad things become the reason to live life on crutches, and don’t let good things become a reason to believe you’re invincible. Take every moment as an opportunity to learn something; a lesson, a reason for living your life to the fullest. @NamasteMamaRose

  17. KDillabough July 15, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Jack, first of all…your writing is brilliant. I must have read these lines ten times:

    ” It is a soft whisper that I can barely make out that suggests that maybe I pay more attention to this or that. The problem is that trying to focus upon is a little bit like squeezing water in the palm of your hand. Squeeze too tightly and it slips out between your fingers leaving you with a damp trail that provides faint evidence that it was ever there.” Pure poetry: evocative: beautiful.

    As to the question, Do things happen for a reason? Yes, I believe they do. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. And the teacher is often clothed in ways that defy logic.

    My friend’s son just died. I was at his funeral yesterday. In this family, the youngest son was injured and paralyzed in a sports accident. The oldest son has brain cancer. The middle son died last week, for no “apparent reason.”

    Now I would never, at this moment, say to my friend: “All things happen for a reason.” It’s not the time. Not the place. But as I spoke to her even at the funeral, her words told me that she had come to a place that, in her heart and soul, that already told her: things happen for a reason.

    I also know that bad things happen to good people, and that even if you do it all “right”, things can turn out horribly wrong. But that’s a story for another day…one that I’ve been encouraged by all of you, my online friends, to share.

    So, as Erica says…your daughter doesn’t hate you. She’s just reacting to life’s circumstances with the only tools she’s equipped with right now: raw emotion which, though directed at you, isn’t about you.

    I’ll stop now, lest I get to a Griddy-length post:) All you can do is all you can do…the operative word being “do”. Sometimes it will be “right”, sometimes “wrong”, but it is only in the doing that we learn, grow and evolve into the people we’re intended to be. Warm regards, Kaarina

  18. StartYourNovel July 15, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Jack, I relate, because my family went through a very bad patch when I was growing up. It made me tougher and more patient; doesn’t mean I liked it, but in the end me and my siblings lived through it.

    Now, as to whether things happen for a reason — if you can glimpse the reason, there it is. Sometimes it takes hindsight to realize what the lesson really was.

    Lessons and opportunities must find fertile ground in your mind or go to waste. The lesson you failed to grasp, that eluded your waking self — was that real?

    A coincidence that nobody notices — is that a coincidence?

    Such cognitive phenomena may not exist outside the individual mind, but that <em>doesn’t make them invalid</em>. You experience them, you think about them, and they have meaning to you. No-one will dispute that. The mind is your birthright, and it teaches itself, but it needs a little help from you.

  19. KimDavies July 15, 2011 at 1:57 am

    I’m sorry to hear about your moving and your daughter’s reaction, Jack. I am one of those people who believe that everything that happens do because there is a lesson there that needs to be learned. Your move, regardless of the circumstances that led to this, is filled of possibilities your tomorrow, yours and that of your feisty little girl.

    It’s just like when my 13-year old brother died in 2003 of aneurysm and was followed my 20-year old who expired because of leukemia, my parents and other siblings thought they were unfortunate circumstances, but I’d like to believe that they happened with a reason. Every end signals a new beginning. With every death comes a birth. That was what happened with us. In the same years of my brother’s and sister’s death I gave birth to my son and daughter. I cried for the lives that ended but rejoiced at the new ones that came to my life.

    So, if you hear the wind whisper to you, it is doing so to tell you of the possibilities that lay ahead. You might not hear them all the time, but they are there, waiting for you to discover them.

    Chin up, Jack. You and I know your daughter does not really hate you. She hates the move because she of her fear of the unknown. But, in time, she will learn to accept everything and I bet she’ll tell you what she really feels.

    Take care,


  20. Faryna July 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    That sucks. Sucks that you have to move. It sucks that your daughter is upset and you can’t make it better. I feel for you, Jack.

    Is there a bigger game going – a bigger game that we glimpse through coincidence, serendipitous moments, and synchronicities? Yes, there is and I know it like I know that the tree outside my window is real. And, sometimes, I wish it wasn’t so.

    While sometimes charming, enchanting, and magical, it is as much a challenge as it is an opportunity. I don’t think a lot of people get that. Plans fall apart. Good intentions end in poor or heart breaking result. Reason is disarmed and helpless in the face of currents, winds, and seasons that guide, control and defeat us.

    Our defeats may or may not be deserved. Just as our triumphs. We may or may not learn from the lesson. Worse, we might misunderstand and come away with less as opposed to more. Our hearts break more often than they are uplifted. And, unfortunately, we break hearts more often than we encourage and inspire.

    Some will grow. Some will wither. Some will tear out their hair, cover themselves with ashes, and seek mercy.

    I know, however, to ignore the bigger game and not take clues from it (like scraps for a dog from the table) leads to more pain, more sorrow, and more misfortune.

  21. columbiarose July 14, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    If a length cannot be measured by you, it nevertheless exists, and that has meaning.

    You may be able to describe some of the length’s attributes, and that gives meaning.

    You may try to measure the length, and that gives meaning.

    You may try and fail to measure it, and that gives meaning.

    You may realize that you will never fully measure the length, but you continue to try, and that gives meaning.

    You may realize that you will only glimpse it refracted, even only a whisper, even only water captured briefly in your hand, and that gives meaning.

    Without your patient endurance, only the first meaning, independent of you, on its own, exists.

  22. TheJackB July 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    @Jk Allen That is part of what makes me question things. I have buried more than a few friends and know a bunch of people from high school that aren’t with us any longer. The suicides and car accidents are easier for me to understand.

    But death by cancer is a different story.

  23. TheJackB July 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    @mylifestylemax Hi Stacey. It does feel better to think that there is a reason and that there is some sort of life lesson to be learned from our experiences. I always look for that because I like to see what I can make of things. I figure there is nothing lost in trying to turn things into teaching moments.

    But I don’t want to paint myself into a corner in which I spend more time believing than doing.

  24. TheJackB July 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    @EricaAllison My gut is usually pretty accurate, but for a while now it has been at odds with my head. Or maybe I should say it is case of head versus heart. I want to believe that there are signs being sent to me, but sometimes it is just a little too pat. I normally don’t straddle the fence, but on this I seem be.

  25. TheJackB July 14, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    @bdorman264 Most of the time I take the same position that you have illustrated here. Life is a mixed bag of nuts and you never do know what you are going to get. But if you bloom wherever you are planted it tends to be easier.

    And yes, we are moving. Sold the house and will be heading on to somewhere else.

  26. marianne.worley July 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Since the day my Dad was diagnosed with brain cancer more than 3 years ago, I’ve been very interested in brain research and the nature of our thoughts and personalities. I take a more scientific approach and see things from a biological perspective. I believe things happen for a reason–a biological reason. Our human brains are designed to do billions of things. We make choices and things happen. My Dad died because he inherited the brain cancer gene from his father and the bad cells in his brain destroyed the rest of his body. It’s biology, not destiny.

  27. Jk Allen July 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Hey Jack!

    I believe 100% that things happen for a reason. It’s really easy to believe this during neutral and great times – but not so easy for the hard things we encounter. It’s easy to say to my wife – “we were went to be”. But it’s not so easy to say that when a family member gets ill. But, still – I believe that EVERYTHING happens for a reason.

  28. mylifestylemax July 14, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    You know what, I’m inclined to think that everything happens for a reason…it makes me feel better. it makes my pain and distress at some of the occurrences in my life a bit more bearable. Other times, I think the bumper sticks are right – “shit happens” ” build a bridge- and get over it”..being two of my personal favourites!

  29. EricaAllison July 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I think things do happen for a reason, Jack. I also believe in coincidences, or rather occurrences that pop up in our lives that present us with decisions to make. What we do with them is fascinating and terrifying all at the same time. I used to act first and then think. Now, I listen to my gut, think a little bit, then revisit the gut for the decisions.

  30. bdorman264 July 14, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Stuff happens and it’s called life; some good and some great, some bad and some catastrophic that makes you ask why. Why? Just because…………………good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people for no apparent reason. Why? It’s called life………………

    HOWEVER, I do think your attitude and expectations help affect outcomes.


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