Recently I read Judith Rich’s HuffPo post, Elizabeth Edwards And Us: Lessons in Resilience. It is a follow-up to an earlier post in which she decided to make a 100-day plan, taking one step each day toward a creative goal. (A great idea, I’ve been doing it too.) Unfortunately, a week or so into her 100 days, she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer. Apparently, she has the best possible kind of cancer (is that the weirdest phrase ever, or what?), it’s been caught early and it is “very treatable.” Still, no matter what course of treatment she opts for, a serious wrench has been thrown into her 100-day plan.
In her (honest and eloquent) post, Judith writes, “There are the plans we make for our lives and then there’s life’s plan for us.” I really like that – it both encourages the conscious pursuit of our goals and dreams and acknowledges the reality that life rarely unfolds according to our best laid plans. She also says that she believes her cancer (like all things) is happening for a reason, and that she will let it teach her what she has to learn. I like that, too because she is brave and positive and that will serve her well on the road ahead.
I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I know that’s a popular notion. People like to say it. I guess it’s comforting to hear it, but I don’t believe it. I believe we often make our own luck, invite our own misfortunes. I believe there are little choices we make every day that shape who we are and how we move through the world (see yesterday’s post), and that a lot of what we fall victim to is of our own (often unintentional) design.
And then there’s the rest of it. Life’s randomness. I believe in coincidence and dumb luck. I believe bad things happen to good people, and sometimes good things happen for no better reason than because someone stood in the right place at the right time. In California, where I live, if you look at pictures after an earthquake, you see the randomness of disaster – a house lying in ruins beside a house unscathed.
I think Judith Rich will come through her cancer changed, stronger. I think she will learn what cancer has to teach her, not because there’s a reason for the illness, but because she is an amazing woman. And, I guess, if that’s what happens, she will have created the reason she needs… So maybe it’s all semantics in the end.
Enough of what I think. What do you think? Does everything happen for a reason?