Really? I didn’t know that.
It’s annoying when well meaning but presumptive people attempt to explain away or justify my adoption with “things happen for a reason”. The sarcasm becomes a living entity that wants to claw its way out of my mouth and bite them in the face.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard that statement over the last month. Don’t get me wrong. It all depends on context. I can empathize when a person says it as a way of coming to terms with events in their lives they can’t explain or don’t want to delve into. I can even politely smile when religious people say it. If they believe some higher power is orchestrating all our lives around some greater plan, that’s their business. I’m all for a person’s right to believe in whatever they want as long as they don’t try to impose it on me.
For some, it’s a source of comfort. I’m sure many feel it’s consoling for others, but I’m not one of them. It’s dismissive. They might as well be saying that the reason doesn’t matter. Everything was “meant to be” so no one need take responsibility or be held accountable for their choices. Why worry about it? Why think about it? Give up. Let it go. Move on.
Again, don’t get me wrong. Yes, things do happen for a reason. For example, I received a citation for not having a current inspection sticker because I failed to have my car inspected. I was flat broke when inspection time came around and couldn’t get it done. Later on, life got really chaotic, and I just plain forgot. I decided to go to the library one day and ended up driving down the wrong street at the wrong time. Mr. Policeman was more than happy to remind me of my expired inspection sticker. That same week, I went and had my car inspected. When the due date for the fine rolled around, I went to the court house and showed them the receipt. The young man at the court house was nice enough to wave the fine and send me on my way.
What happens to us is often the results of choices we make. Sometimes, it’s the result of choices others make. Sometimes, the course of our lives is the result of a combination of the two. Sometimes, our choices are based on the choices others make. Still, there are other times when life just happens and then we’re ultimately left with a choice. The options presented to us aren’t always ideal and sometimes we just make really bad decisions. The point is that in the end, it’s what we – and sometimes those connected to us – do that decides not necessarily the destination but the path we take to get there.
Looking back, beyond the limits of my first memories can be a confusing process, especially when the historic truth is reliant upon the honesty and memories of others. However, I can still partially see how I arrived “here”. There’s no need to feel either completely in control or completely out of control, but one thing I absolutely cannot do is throw reason to the wind and dismiss it all as “destiny”.
Perhaps it comes down to my attempt to relieve myself of some of the uncertainty with which I’ve been forced to live. Of course, we all have to live with some amount of it, but most do not have to deal with the same kind of uncertainty regarding their history as they do their future. Looking back is just as murky as looking forward which leaves many of us with only “now”. Hope does lie in the future, but for me there’s more to it than simply moving forward.
The choices I make “now” will not only affect my future, but can also affect my past. If I choose to close my eyes to my history, it remains locked away. If I choose to delve, my actions now and in the future could simultaneously push me through opening doors to my history. It’s like moving forwards and backwards at the same time.
In a figurative sense, adoptees must sometimes become their own Kwisatz Haderach “existing many places at once”, bridging the past with the present while paving the way for their future. However, learning lessons from the past, understanding how it’s led to the present and how both may affect the future is the closest thing to prescience most can ever hope to have.
For those sitting there thinking, ” Yeah, she’s off her rocker,” you’ve missed the point and are taking me too literally.
I suppose I could save myself some writing, be less geeky about it and use George Santayana’s quote, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
David C. McCullough’s quote would do nicely, “History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”
Those are more straight forward, but not nearly as much fun.