I Believe Things Happen for a Reason
(This I Believe, 2010)
I believe that things happen for a reason. I’m not referring to destiny or spiritual determinism. Instead, I believe that with thought and the benefit of hindsight, there is something to be learned from the events we experience in our lives.
I’d like to share some examples. Last year, when my son entered third grade, he was assigned to a teacher he had in kindergarten (which was not a good school year for him). This teacher shows little warmth and loses her cool. I left conferences upset at the disparaging way she spoke about my child. When I saw her name listed as Jesse’s teacher, I felt upset and disappointed. But for my son, we put on a good face. By the end of October, however, Steve and I tired of her requests to discuss our son’s behavior. He’s a sweet, shy boy; how could she have so many issues with him? I realized that perhaps something more was going on. We had Jesse evaluated and learned that he has a significant learning disability. This led us to look at private schools and this year, he attends Churchill where he is thriving. I now look back and see the upside to having this teacher. She amplified, let’s just say the “wrong issue,” which put us on a path to identify and deal with the right one. And Jesse is all the better for it.
Last year, as my brother turned 50, he was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately it was caught early. My brother and sister-in-law ask millions of questions and seek second opinions from experts. My brother is a science geek who loves research, and he looked into studies he could participate in as part of his treatment. I was astonished by how much time they spent doing this stuff. It seemed to delay any action. Yet their vigilance led to the discovery of a second tumor. My brother had two surgeries and was out of work for six months. In that time, he and I developed the closest bond we’ve ever had. He spent a fair amount of time at Memorial Sloan Kettering and I frequently met him there. We sat and talked for the first time in years. I enjoyed seeing people visit him. I didn’t know my brother had so many friends; it was nice to see.
During the financial crisis, Steve was laid off. We were frightened; we depend on his job for our benefits and I had just launched my business. But he landed in a much better firm, in a much better job, with a much better boss. Since I work out of our apartment, I had the pleasure to spend time with him and to eavesdrop on his networking—which was truly impressive! It’s strange to say, but getting laid off ended up being a great thing.
Call me a “rationalizer” or a “Pollyanna”; the truth is that I like to mull things over. It gives me perspective. I’m pretty impatient, but when I give my thoughts time to gel, I can usually gain an insight or learn something new. That’s what I mean by “things happen for a reason.”