Just Another Post about The Meaning of Life (& Stuff)

by P. Braithwaite

The night that my best friend was hit by a car, I had the privilege of speaking to her on the phone. I was at a Thanksgiving celebration on the Upper West Side, but I tucked into a dark room to make the call. It was worth it. My best friend was riding high on Valium, cursing everyone in her life, but pausing to be unusually sweet to the nurses.

Eventually, after pleasantries and normal conversation, she got down to the root of her concerns.

“Tia…Why did this happen? Did I manifest this? Why would I attract getting hit by a car? “

I paused. There were lots of ways to answer this. One could explore these questions at the most basic level and talk about traffic safety and the importance of being alert while crossing the street. One could quote the Bible or throw out a Christian maxim involving our inability to understand the ways of the Lord, or one could try to address the courage necessary to move forward, “God won’t give you anything you can handle.” We could even get all Buddhist with it and talk about Karma and Parami.

None of these approaches seemed right. The whole line of conversation made me a bit uncomfortable.

“I’m not sure,” I answered.”I don’t know.”

I looked down at my toe for a moment and stammered. You’d be surprised how often people ask me questions I can’t f*cking answer. Luckily for me a nurse came to change her dressing.

“I’ll call you back,” she whispered.

I went to bed that night in deep gratitude for my best friend’s life, but in deep introspection around the ways and reasons that things unfold as they do. In the morning I wrote her a text message:

“Why this happened we may never know, but what we do know is that you’re alive. You’ve chosen to be alive, and now you get to decide what this all means. You get to decide what you do with the life that you have left. That’s the question that really matters: what will you make this mean?”

I have a growing concern with the law of attraction as it is presented to us in personal development seminars and pithy documentaries like The Secret. I have a growing concern with the false interpretations that make us think our negative thoughts cause catastrophic and disastrous consequences. While the law of attraction intends for us to be and feel empowered, while it pushes us toward understanding that our thoughts about things create our experience of them, I think that there is an irrational undercurrent that keeps us afraid of our own darkness. If I feel the wrong thing for too long my world will fall apart. If I’m too negative for too long I’ll get hit by a car.

This troubles me because it makes us slaves and victims to our own thoughts. It doesn’t empower us as much as it merely changes the dynamic of the same abusive relationship. It broke my heart to hear my best friend, in her drug-induced state, ask me why she brought this one herself. The last thing she needed, on the night when she was grateful to be alive, was the fear that her negativity had brought her into the path of a careening car.

Now let’s be clear, I’m not saying she’s a victim of circumstance. I’m not saying there’s not a soul on a journey that needed to get hit by a car, but “Why did this happen?” and “What did I do wrong?” seem to be unproductive questions. And the answer is not as simple as the law of attraction. The answer involves taking responsibility WHILE understanding the limits of our own ego-driven intentions.

WHY is not the important question.

What do I MAKE this mean? What meaning do I GIVE this circumstance?

Those are the questions that lead to personal responsibility.

Here’s what I know, at the time of writing this sentence, there are 7,130,231,850 inhabitants on this earth alongside us. We aren’t creating our experience alone. And every action comes together to affect us all. We ALL learn lessons together. In ordered for any one event to happen, thousands of arbitrary moments must occur – people must cooperate on unconscious levels to truly orchestrate an event. An action doesn’t happen alone. A manifestation doesn’t happen in a bubble. The ‘why’ doesn’t have a simple answer? The ‘why’ isn’t the most productive question.

What do I MAKE THIS MEAN? How does this impact the present and the future?

You get to decide. How beautiful and wonderful and scary and huge: you get to decide what the events of your life mean. Whether you’re a transitioning into a new job, whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one, celebrating birth of a child, or having the good ole’ holiday blues, you DON’T have to believe the thoughts you’re thinking. You don’t have to believe that you’re worthless, negative, unlovable, sub-par…you can make change the meaning of the events you’re facing. You can allow what you are facing to make you feel brand new.

God bless the presence of a new moment…of another chance to make meaning that helps us grow.

And so it is.