Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beatle Wisdom

Ad nauseam, I have heard variations on the quote, "Everything happens for a reason." I call bullshit. What logical and rational basis is there for that load of horse puckey?

Nothing happens for a reason. Things just happen. Some events we are able to control or direct, or at best, alter the outcome. Other things...many things...most things, just are.

I've been watching and listening for years now and I've developed what I'm sure is not an original theory. It is my belief that the major source of unhappiness/depression/anxiety...label it what you will, is due to the unwavering and ignorant belief that everything does indeed happen for a reason. We spend our lives analyzing the events that are the daily stuff of living, turning over the "what ifs" and "if onlys" until our brains can no longer process it all.

As human beings, we seem to be wired to immediately attempt to explain things we don't understand, even at the risk of irrational thinking. Throughout history, humanity has conjured up gods of the earth, sea, underworld, heavens, etc. in order to explain the unexplainable. Modern day religions conjure up gods who are supposed to personally care and watch over each and every being on the planet, while all over the Earth each day, thousands die heinous deaths from starvation, torture, natural disasters and disease.

For most of the "big" stuff...like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, scientists have pretty much figured it out. Scientists know why they happen, how they happen and can predict with some accuracy, when they might happen. But...they can't control them. Natural disasters just are.

Science has also advanced so dramatically over the years that doctors can, with astounding accuracy, determine what ails you and remedy that ailment. Bones can be replaced with metal, hearts can be repaired using animal organs and fetuses can be operated on while still attached to the womb. It's not perfect, but they pretty much have this figured out as well. Doctors sometimes fail and cannot save every life, and they've not yet figured out how to halt the aging process so that we can live forever, but we must accept that death is a part of life. Death just is.

When I was in a car accident a couple of years ago, the physical result was a shattered collarbone and a fractured hip. I spent weeks and months in pain and was a horrible beast because I wanted to be "whole" again. After the pain medications and the anti-inflammatories were no longer a part of my daily life, my brain had a chance to review things a bit. What it concluded was this: I was no longer "whole" and would never be. There was a choice to be made. I could be a beast and whine and moan, despairing for the loss of my perfectly functioning skeletal system, or I could accept that my accident just was. Could I have done things differently? Maybe. Could I have changed the outcome? Maybe. I don't know the answers to those questions and never will. What I do know, without a doubt, is that this and every other negative occurrence in my life is simply a part of life.

Over the course of our evolution as human beings, we have un-learned our natural coping skills. We have advanced so far technologically and have had so many things made easier for us, that we expect ease. In essence, we have de-volved. Coping skills keep us functioning, happy and emotionally healthy. Without these skills, we languish in despair and hopelessness, waiting for someone to drop in and solve our problems for us and to make our lives easier.

Life isn't easy. It also isn't half as bad for most of us as we make it out to be. In most developed countries, life for the majority of people doesn't "suck" or even come close. There are far too many creature comforts, too much food, too much of everything for us to want for much. What makes our lives "suck" is our own self-indulgence, self-pity and inability to accept and understand that shit happens.

True happiness comes when you finally, really and truly understand the "shit happens," concept. Sometimes, yes, it's really bad shit. However, no matter how bad it is, we always have a choice. We can either choose to roll around and wallow in said shit, or we can trudge out of it, wipe off our boots and get on with it.

Yes...this is slightly over simplifying things. I understand fully that sometimes we need professional intervention, time and self awareness to "get on with it," but that's all a part of reaching an understanding that we do need to get on with it and seeking out appropriate resources to aid us in that process.

My happiness comes from the knowledge that life is a series of peaks and valleys and that although the valleys may sometimes seem vast and deep, if I pedal my ass off, there will most certainly be revealed a delightful and breathtaking peak. My happiness also comes from eliminating those people from my life who refuse to acknowledge the peaks. I have no room for those who are standing atop a beautiful mountain and are constantly looking down and whining, "But...look at that VALLEY!"

The inevitable stage of my life has come where I realize that those old people weren't full of shit when they told me that, "life is short." You bet your ass it is.  Much too short to blame, whine, kvetch, wallow and lament.

If you need to talk about things to sort them all out, I'm all ears. If you want to use those things as an excuse not to make progress in your life or to be happy, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Life can be a real bitch sometimes, but it can also be the most joyous and amazing experience. It's not an all or nothing proposition, this life. We get the good with the bad. Once we learn to just let things be, the good just seems to get better and better.

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.

For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

(When Paul McCartney of the Beatles was experiencing an anxious and trying time in his life, he had a dream in which his mother, Mary McCartney, came to him and told him to just let things "be." He in turn, sat down and penned the classic, "Let it Be." Wise woman, that Mary. And...good son, that Paul.)

P.S. Yes, I'm aware the beetle in the photo was not one of the Beatles. But he is a cute little fellow, isn't he? Sitting there all Zen-like...just letting it be.


Linda Rae said...

After Scott died, I realized that no matter what happens, it just HAPPENS--and eventually really bad things happen to everyone. Whether you're really happy (the peaks) or really sad (the valleys), it will change.

I knew that dead was dead, and whether he was hit by a truck or drowned in the river, he would be the same kind of dead--just gone.

But, I would still be beating myself up because I hadn't watched him well enough. Since he died of a disease caused by -- well, caused by living in the world, somehow I thought it would be easier for me to accept...

...but only peripherally.

I wonder whether there really is a reason for getting lymphoma, and if I caused it. It seems most of us are just bound and determined to take credit for everything--probably the rising of the sun, etc.

What has helped me get through the ensuing years' difficulties is the sure knowledge that even if there is a reason for something, I probably will never know it.

Being happy, as you well know, is a choice made every day.

Hilarywho said...

Well said!

ellen abbott said...

Oh Amy, you are so right. I agree with this completely. Shit happens, things change, life is constantly unfolding and random events that affect you happen. When I was younger and raising my children and trying to get my studio well established, whenever the stress became so bad, the thing that got me through was knowing that whatever it was was only temporary. And you are right. People in this country have devolved (love that). they no longer know how to get past things and get on with life.

Whitney Lee said...

I, too, love the 'devolved' comment. I tend to think that having expectations is the cause of most people's unhappiness. If people would just 'let it be' they'd be more content. The concept of everything happening for a reason is simply an attempt to explain the often unexplainable.

The Bug said...

I totally agree with you. One of the hardest things for me about being a Christian is the concept of "God's Will" - which is similar to the things happen for a reason saying. I think I have come to believe that what God would say is, try to make good choices & be happy. And learn from your mistakes.

I still reserve my right to whine as if my life is bad. What else would I talk about? Just kidding - I'll try to be more conscious of just how good I have it!

Wendy said...

I've long believed that we are not in control, and there is not a reward in the afterlife, or some brownie point system that all balances out in the end. We are not in control of what happens to us, we can only be in control of how react in how we let if affect our happiness. Not in the future, not even later today, but in this moment. I had this conversation with Alex a couple of nights ago. It shouldn't be carpe diem, it should be carpe now.

Amy said...

Linda: Yes. Agreed. No matter the extraneous b.s., we do indeed get to choose.

Hillary: Thank you!

ellen: Getting on with life. That's the point of it all, isn't it?! I love your comments. Thank you.

Whitney: Yes, ma'am!

Bug: You can reserve the right to whine! I think we all have that part of us that needs a moment or two here and there to be a wee bit self indulgent. Just make it short, girly!

Wendy: Boy. Mr. Right and I have had many conversations about this very thing. Being "present" and living in the moment, because there is not a single human being on the planet who KNOWS if there is an "afterlife." What a pain if you've spent your life "enduring to the end" only to find out that the end is...THE END. CARPE NOW!!!

Kathy G said...

I've got to respectfully disagree (with at least part of your thought-provoking post). I've had some things happen to me that didn't make any sense at the time, but later--sometimes years later--I could figure out why.

I accept what happens each day, good or bad, and know that's what's SUPPOSED to happen.

Amy said...

Kathy: And I thank YOU for your thoughtful comment and for being so respectful in your disagreement. Respectful, rational and intelligent conversation is always welcome here. And hippies. Hippies are ALWAYS welcome here!

@eloh said...

I kind of needed this... a kick in the ass sort of thing...thanks.

My oldest child has been, paralyzed, mute, tube fed, and bedridden since he was 20. He just turned 38. I do everything myself.

But for many years...if only, if only maybe he wouldn't have been in that time and place... if only I had been a better mother.

Then, some friends of mine with two beautiful and promising sons... who devoted their entire lives to their sons... including both boys going to work for the same business with their dad...
were murdered when they stopped into a Blockbuster video store.

And I realized... they were the best parents..and lost all their children in one horrible event.

Shit happens. and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.

Amy said...

@eloh: Have I ever told you that you have a way of bringing me to my mental knees? Just when I think my smart ass has it all figured out, you pipe up and rip all of my self-proclaimed brilliance to shreds. There have been many times while reading your comments and blog that I've wanted to risk being shot and reach out and put my arms around you. Sometimes it's because I find you to be so terribly intelligent and witty that I can barely contain myself and other times it's because I have the desire to comfort you. Maybe you don't need comforting, but I do when I read things like your comment, so please allow me to give you a cyber hug in order to make ME feel better, will you?

Tobi said...

I soooo needed this today!! and how crazy that you just wrote it a few days ago!

Amy said...

Tobi: Hey! Welcome! Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you found something useful here.