Does everything happen for a reason?

Warning: language.

How I met my husband is just about the coolest story you’ll ever hear. Of course I’m biased, but once I tell it, I think you’ll understand why I say that.

In the fall of 1986, I was living in central Florida with my parents. The previous fall, I had been at Oberlin College in Ohio, but I had flunked out after the first year. I had spent my high school years being pretty studious, and when I got to college, I decided that having a social life was more important. This decision had its consequences, and I got a letter from Oberlin saying that they were withdrawing me for a year.

So when I wasn’t working, I was trying out for plays at the Melon Patch Theater in Leesburg, Florida. I got the role of Miss Skillon in “See How They Run,” and enjoyed myself so much, I tried out again, this time for a Halloween play called “The Haunting of Hill House.” I played Mrs. Montague, and my opposite number, Arthur, was played by Richard Lobinske. We fell in love. In mid-November we were engaged, and the following April 1st, we were married. That was twenty-eight years ago, and we’re still going strong.

So if I hadn’t flunked out of Oberlin, I would have been in Ohio in the fall of 1986, not in Florida trying out for plays. Richard and I would never have met.

You can see how easy it is to think that our meeting was destiny. Fate. My failure happened for a reason.

But did it? Honestly, I don’t know. Either it’s fate or a heck of a lot of coincidences, right? And if you listen to Leroy Jethro Gibbs (for one), there are no such things as coincidences.

My discussions with the person I regard as my priest have led to her saying things like, “If there is a divine plan, what difference does it make to you? Does it change anything?” And I appreciate her attempts to get me to think, but usually it ends with my using the word “ambivalent” to describe my temple’s approach to the topic and stopping before my head hurts any more than it already does.

Is it a coincidence that I started out Catholic? Is it an accident that I’ve been an Egyptophile since third grade, when I saw a play at (my Catholic) school about ancient Egypt?

I guess the main thing I get out of thinking the gods have a plan is comfort. If my failure at Oberlin had to happen for the rest of my life to unfold as it did, I can console myself about my crushing disappointment by saying that it wasn’t all my fault – it was supposed to happen. I’m not betraying my Catholic upbringing by turning Kemetic, but fulfilling the greater plan for my life.

But I don’t always think there’s a plan, and I’m not always comforted. My bachelor’s degree is the great unfinished business of my life. I have attended five different schools and had five different majors and only have an associate’s degree to show for it. Was that part of the plan too, that I don’t have a fricking clue about what I want to be when I grow up?

Ultimately, similar to the title of this blog, I am of two minds when it comes to destiny. It’s all well and good to think I was fated to meet my husband, but at some point I have to take responsibility for at least part of my life.

3 thoughts on “Does everything happen for a reason?

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever really been comforted by the idea that “everything happens for a reason” or that bad things happening to good people are part of God’s plan. I’ve been more or less happily married for 18 years, and I love our two children. I met my husband after a painful breakup. The way in which that relationship broke up did direct me towards my husband, in a positive way, and I’m glad it all worked out for good. But I can also imagine alternate futures in which I married someone else who I met after a less painful breakup, or married the guy I broke up with because the issue we broke up over didn’t arise; futures in which I had a similar or different number of also wonderful children; futures in which I lived somewhere else; futures in which I didn’t marry at all, etc. I don’t have any regrets, but I don’t think this is the only good way that my life could have unfolded. Of course there are also many worse ways in which my life could have unfolded, and I’m glad those didn’t happen. I feel fortunate, and grateful. I just think it’s up to us to work for, and pull the good, out of what befalls us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that when it comes to cause and effect, people who believe that “fate intervened” or “God had a purpose” for an event in their life really are saying “I’m glad things worked out the way they did.” I think of all the “ifs” that had to happen for me to meet my wife. Relationships that didn’t work out, events that pointed my next path in a different direction. Time of day. In the end I’m very happy to have been with the same woman for 23 years and married for 20.
    I have wondered what my life would have been like if a few decisions had been different. I realized that once you have children that kind of thinking stops short with the fact that they wouldn’t exist.

    Liked by 2 people

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