January 2, 2011
I really hate it when people say “Everything happens for a reason.”
This idiom is most often employed in the face of shitty life events. Does your wife have a brain tumor? Did your sister die in an earthquake? Was your father diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Never fear! Everything happens for a reason!
It may sound good on the surface—a reminder that the world is bigger than us, a way to put our pain and suffering in perspective—one of those things people say because they think it makes sense or comforts those who are hurting. But the thing is, how far are we willing to take the “everything” and the “reason?” Are we prepared to tell young parents who just buried their infant child or a son whose father died tragically at work one day that the devastating grief they feel is somehow necessary, even justified?
Myself, I’m not willing to wager on a world in which awful things happen to us “in order to.” As far as I’m concerned and as far as I can tell, awful things just happen. But if they should happen to us (which they inevitably will), we might as well learn something from them.
In my house, we aren’t dealing with awful; what we’ve got is simply inconvenient, and a little scary. Several weeks ago, doctors discovered a two-inch tumor in Jill’s upper chest cavity; they’ve been investigating it ever since. We’re pretty sure it’s not malignant; we’re pretty sure it’s going to require surgical removal.
If you know me, or you’ve been reading this blog a little while, you know that I like plans and lists and calendars and arrangements and order and routine. There is a reason my friend Dave calls me Julie McCoy, after the Social Director on “The Loveboat.” I do so love a good schedule!
But, you know, unexpected tumors and well-arranged plans don’t exactly mix. The last few months I have been forced, and have actually come to embrace, a life with fewer plans in it. Less super-social weekends and a lot more sitting on the couch with the dog and the cats. Less elaborate-recipe dinners and a lot more standing around the kitchen island with friends, snacking on whatever’s around. Less running around town and more reading. Less spending money on stuff and more spending time together.
It’s all cliché but it’s all true, and we know it on paper but we forget it in our bones. Until, of course, we are reminded. Did a tumor grow in Jill’s chest so that I could learn to let go of my over-planning ways? Of course not. But if it’s going to disrupt our lives, I figure the least I can do is get something good out of the deal.
I’ll be back with a recipe later in the week, I promise. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind as we start this new year!