Roses on rocks in Hatley Park, Victoria, British Columbia
Roses on rocks in Hatley Park, Victoria, British Columbia (Miranda Hernandez)

While I’ve done yoga on and off for several years, I am by no means an expert. I have noticed though, while visiting in that world, that there is this trend in our times, that many people today believe they are deep. I am not deep. I am no great philosopher. But I know enough to know that some things are wrong.

I see these words in so many places:

You are where you are supposed to be.
Everything is as it’s meant to be.
Everything happens for a reason.

These words are dangerous. These words are wrong.

It is wrong to spread the idea that everything in this life is normal; that everything we experience is necessary; that everything is okay. Violence is not okay. Rape is not okay. A child’s death is never okay.

I see people who have lived through such horrible things and experienced growth. And some of these people have come to the mistaken belief that these experiences are necessary; that it isn’t possible to build a good life unless it started on this traumatic foundation. This is simply untrue.

Then there are those who have experienced the loss of things they later realized weren’t really essential to them. I myself have cried over the end of a relationship I later realized wasn’t right for me. I think that’s part of growth. I think that’s part of learning what’s important in my life. I don’t think it’s appropriate to take your or my experience with loss and extrapolate meaning for all of mankind.

This is where I take issue with these sayings, these memes. They draw on singular experiences. They are constructed from one person’s bad relationship; bad work experience; bad day. They are not universal, but they aim to be understood that way. They aim to say that because one person overcame her failed romantic relationship or expensive business failure and found a better life, then everyone can. We just have to believe.

No.

This is not true.

At a retreat last year, someone pointed out that everything happens — everything: happiness, sadness, loneliness, joy; war, famine, rape, death; broken promises, lottery winners, childhood cancer, cancer cured. Everything. And almost never for a reason. At least not the way the saying intends. Sometimes life just sucks. Sometimes children die. And sometimes they don’t. And that’s just part of the real truth in life, the real truth in the world.

So here are some better phrases:

You are where you are.
There is no “supposed to”. There is only what exists.
Everything happens.

The end.