The existential meaningless of falling off your bicycle
December 29, 2015 § 38 Comments
People love to find meaning in stuff. “The movement of the stars at birth determines your character!”
“The lines on your palm tell your future!”
“These tea leaves reveal tomorrow’s stock gains!”
Another place people love to find meaning is in misfortune. It’s well-intentioned and it reflects the root of all human hope, which is optimism. Unfortunately, it’s hogwash.
Now before you chastise me for another ramble down Pity Lane, keep in mind that I have to come up with something to write about virtually every day, and for better or worse my cracked pelvis keeps on giving.
Of all the condolences I get, and being a pity whore I lap them all up and gladly solicit new ones by showing up at events with a crutch even though I no longer need it, the only one that I can’t swallow is this one: “Everything happens for a reason.”
If it stopped there I’d be fine, but it never does. The “everything-happens-for-a-reason” person follows it up with an observation about how being hurt changes your perspective, makes you humble, helps you appreciate what you’ve got, sharpens your will to get better, and is frankly a blessing in disguise because “After all, you’re lucky you weren’t killed.”
And all of that might be true. The problem is, none of it is connected with “Everything happens for a reason” because the only “reason” that anything happens is due to a confluence of decisions, circumstances, physics, and good old randomness.
There is no Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker brandishing The Force to weave the details of my stupid bicycle-falling-off-incident so that it will make me a better person. In fact, the people around me would agree that it’s made me a worse person, if such is possible.
Awful, horrific, hideous things with life-altering consequences (permanently and for the worse) happen all the time. Children have bombs dropped on their heads in Syria, children get kidnapped and sold into slavery in Nigeria, little kids get shot on the porch in Cleveland, and thousands of Korean women got press-ganged into prostitution for the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII.
And you know what? None of that was for the better, and none of it happened because of Dog or Fate or the Tea Leaves.
Now you could argue that the world is made a better place by having one less old fellow sporting around on a bicycle in his underwear while wearing stretchy bottoms that force everyone in the coffee shop to avert their eyes at the shriveled shrimp exposed in high relief by his tight pants.
And you could also argue that my bicycle falling off incident DID happen for a reason, as long as you state the reason as “Stupid choice of yours at the wrong time on the wrong road and the even-handed application of physics.”
But make me a better person?
That won’t happen until I’m allowed to eat all the pecan pie I want. Which isn’t now.
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