Random world epiphany

May 11, 2010

Is there someone in your life who tells you the truth? Nicely?

The other day I was writing about a difficult life situation in which I felt the victim. I believed with all my heart I’d been wronged.

And that’s how I wrote it.

My husband, who knows something about the issue, read it and (astutely) asked “But what about you? Is it all them? What do you own in that?”


Like most people, I can feel put upon from time to time and it’s natural to point the finger outside myself. We all do it.

Mea culpa.

But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t entertain the notion that there is a different, equally valid way to look at any situation. Even if I don’t like it.

We bring to our viewpoints the sum total of our experiences and the associated emotions. They color how we look at everything.

So, our viewpoints are inherently biased, no matter how convinced we are of their rightness.

And even more irritating: life plays out on a stage that is benign. It’s a neutral world. I might need periodic reminders of that.

As a believer in the examined life, I like to think of myself as self-aware and maybe more so than the average Jill.

Sometimes, though, I’m not. It takes an astute outside observer to point out when I am not taking responsibility for my feelings. My view is not the only angle on a particular issue and if it’s an emotional one, mine may not even be reasonable.

How easy it is to to spin out into an endless loop that reinforces itself over and over. Pinning our own stuff on others.

The kicker is that I’m hardly ever self-aware enough to see it. Someone else has to take me there. Which pisses me off.

Like I said the other day: the examined life is hell.

Here’s another flash: the world is not only neutral, it’s random.

Bad things happen to good people and to bad people in equal measure.

M. and I have recently had to deal with a real harridan, someone so mean and negative that she defies description. I’m sure there is great pain behind her attitude, but I certainly struggle with compassion.

“Don’t you wonder why bad things don’t happen to people like that?” M asked me the other day. “Why they always seem to happen to good people?”

Well, yeah. But it’s a random world.

Disease is indiscriminate. Jobs come and go regardless of capability.

Things happen to us. Sometimes, heartbreaking things. No one is immune and it’s not a contest. It’s relative.

A friend’s suffered two different bouts of cancer in two years. Others have lost children. Several people I know have terrible, debilitating diseases. Another’s life partner is incapacitated. A child has autism. A good friend was in a random accident and suffered injuries such that his quality of life has deteriorated significantly.

It’s not something they did or didn’t do.

Yes, of course, there are some well-established cause and effects. For example, smoking can cause cancer.

But for some people it doesn’t.

We do the best we can and bad things still happen.

What happens is mostly the luck of the draw and there’s really no pattern, purpose or objective.

We can waste a lot of time looking for a reason that won’t ever become apparent. Or trying to blame something or someone.

Many of us, me included, can drive ourselves crazy obsessing about what we did or didn’t do.

Or (mis)interpreting others based on our own (possibly) skewed viewpoint.

Well, look. As much as we’d like to formulate the world so that it’s more comfortable for our particular emotional issues, we can’t.

The world is neutral and it’s random.

Imagine what it would be like if the world had to take into account everyone’s individual tweaks.

The toughest part about being self-aware is having a clear view, identifying what’s our own stuff and then owning it.

It’s the starting point for a happy life.

I’ve rewritten this about 10 times because I know I’m wandering around. I think the bottom line is this:

Don’t think it’s all about you, because it usually isn’t.

I’m glad I have people in my life who help me see that. Because odds are I’d never see it by myself.

So if there’s someone in your life who tells you the truth, you are very, very lucky.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.