There is a part of me that, for about 80% of my life, feels like yelling at people about how wrong they are. Normally, I am able to repress this with a strict regiment of anti-social behaviour, alcohol, and video games – but every once in a while, I need to let it out. I have done this once before, and I will likely do it again, so you will just have to bear with me on this. There is a phrase that I need people to stop using (or stop using it in a certain way) in order for me to stave off complete misanthropy.
“It was meant to be!”
Chances are you have both heard and uttered this phrase or one like it a number of times. I understand that it is usually used casually or jokingly to point out extreme coincidences or events that work out extremely well for no good reason. Say, for instance, you turn your alarm off in the morning instead of hitting snooze, and wind up leaving really late for work. When you finally get out of the house, you wind up speeding because you are stressed about being fired since this is the third time you’ve been late this month and you’re already on thin ice since your last presentation when you had a bad taquito for lunch beforehand and wound up throwing up all over your client’s seeing eye dog.
Anyway, because you are driving so erratically and cursing yourself for trying out that sketchy mexican place on the day of your big presentation, you don’t see the guy crossing the road until the last second. You slam on your breaks, but it isn’t quite quick enough and you hit the guy. He isn’t killed, but he is hurt. Your rush to his side to see if he is light enough for you to drag into your car so you can dispose of his dead body later (probably in your bathtub with lye, or else in a shallow grave in the forest, you’re thinking), and are surprised to see that he is still conscious and already sitting up. You are also surprised to see that he is the most attractive man you have ever seen. The two of you wind up falling madly in love, and get married.From then on, every time you meet someone new or have a dinner party for your less-successful friends so you can show off your nice apartment, you tell the storyof how you and your hubby met, and every time you end it with, “it was meant to be!”
Now, I understand the compulsion to do this. With a story like that, there are some variables at play that, had they been slightly different, you would never have almost killed and then fallen in love with your dream man. It is very easy to look at something like this and think, ” wow, there must have been some plan in place, things like that just don’t happen!”. The only problem is that, well, yeah, things like that do happen. You know what else happens? Everything. It’s called Causality, and all it means is that one thing causes or leads to another. If you are alive today, chances are you know about causality, even if you aren’t totally aware of it. If you are going to try to say that you were “meant” to meet this guy who forgot to look both ways before crossing, you are going to need more than to just say “I NEVER forget to set my alarm!”. It is very possible (in fact much more likely) that you just fell ass backwards into a relationship based on some incredible circumstances. The common reaction to this is something like, “but if I had set my alarm, I would have never met him”. That’s all fine and good, but here’s the thing: So what? You can say that same thing about almost anything that has ever happened to you. If you go back and retrace your steps of your life moment to moment, it’s gonna look a lot like one thing leading to another over and over again. That’s because that is what your life is. The problem is you can go back and make a story out of your life no matter when and where you are. With the same logic, someone could say something like “if I hadn’t been hit by that car because some bitch forgot to set her alarm, I never would have developed a pill addiction! – it was meant to be!”
Except we don’t like to think that negative outcomes are “meant to be”, do we? We like to think that big coincidences that enrich our lives are a sign that the universe is aligning the stars just so we can get to the grocery store just in time to get the last bucket of half-priced frozen yogurt. Let me boil it down to this, Extraordinary coincidence does not imply design – it does not even come close to implying it. Why do we feel the need to make everything a plan? Why does everything good have to be because of something greater? Can’t shit just happen? Maybe the world isn’t a perfectly ordered set of events, maybe it is just a caucofony of events and forces in flux and…gffdafd… adfkjdbutNietzschesays…dafd….
Okay okay, sorry. Got a little carried away there. I won’t drink coffee next time I do one of these posts. Can we all just do me a favour and use this phrase more sparingly though, please? If we do that, I can get back to arbitrarily praising and slagging various celebrities and pop culture bullshit.
Also, next time you feel yourself wanting to say, “Everything happens for a reason”, just imagine yourself saying that to a kid with AIDS who’s family just shit themselves to death because they didn’t have any clean drinking water. I normally don’t run the “starving kids in Africa” line, but we North Americans need to check ourselves once in a while.
In case you hadn’t heard, the guy that played “Random Task” in Austin Powers was just convicted of gun rape. Have a good week, y’all!