Wednesday, August 8, 2012

You Are Exactly Where You're Supposed to Be

What the heck does that even mean? I mean, I get it, but I’m not sure I totally buy it. I understand the concept. Life is one big cosmic plan, a melding of destiny, fate, free will, and tiny bits of synchronicity. As earthly travelers, we cross paths with those with whom we are meant to connect. We step into the right place at the right time to produce the right effect to send us down the right path. Along the way, we meet up with soul companions, those familiar faces from previous lifetimes. We touch base with these cosmic pals of ours to pass on pieces of learned wisdom, life experience, words of warning or love or guidance, or maybe just to say, “Hey! What’s up? How’s it going?” In the grand cosmic design, it is necessary for you to be HERE in order for you to later be THERE. But sometimes the HERE is not exactly my idea of a place anyone ever needs to be.

I am a little girl sitting on the neighbor’s front porch, listening to my mother and the other ladies chatting as they so often do. Up runs one of the neighbor boys, out of breath and flustered. He tells the ladies of a tragedy that has happened down at the river. The big boys were all playing in the water. It is a cool place on a blistering Southern day. They were laughing and splashing and getting wild like big boys do. One of the Arnold boys was on the shoulders of the other. I don’t understand the rest but I know that it’s bad because the ladies are all crying and have confused looks on their faces and are starting to run off to I don’t think they even know where. Something about “lost his footing,” “current,” “couldn’t get out in time.”

I know now, many years later, that a mother lost her child that day. I know now that, for this reason, my children have never been allowed to climb on the shoulders of anyone when they are in any source of water, ANY source. I know now that the boy who drowned that day never again sat at the dinner table with his family, never again caused teenage grief for his parents, never again picked fights with his brother as brothers are inclined to do. And what about that brother, the one who sat on his sibling’s shoulders as that boy fought to get his footing, struggled to come up out of that water, fought and struggled to no avail? What about that brother who sat that night alone with his parents at the dinner table? Was he exactly where he was supposed to be? Was he THERE so that now he could be HERE, wherever HERE is?

What about the woman I know who is mourning the loss of her grandson, a little guy who hadn’t even yet started school? What about the woman I know, the mother of three, whose husband cheated on her for years with a mutual friend? What about the childhood friend who sat in the backseat of the car while it was parked in front of the local bar and his parents sat screaming and yelling at each other up front, while they fought over the woman his father was there to meet, the woman his father had been sleeping with, cheating on his mother with, the woman, in fact, who was sitting in the car parked right next to theirs? What about the forty-year-old who lost her life to alcohol? What about her son and her daughter? What about all these people? Are THEY exactly where they are supposed to be?

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason and that, yes, we are all exactly where we need to be. I have to believe that. I have seen too much that would otherwise make my stomach lose its contents, make my head hurt from anger and confusion. I like to think that these dark experiences are gifts just as much as are the joyous events in our lives. Some of the most beautiful poetry I have ever read was written by a woman whose father had his way with her sexually from the time she was five until the day he killed himself upon her graduation from high school. I know, too, of a man who has a giving heart, who is gentle and kind and who lifts others up from the dregs of addiction. He has committed his career to helping those who aren’t always able to help themselves. He has committed his career to the lives of those consumed by drugs because he nearly lost his own to the same.

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason and that, yes, we are all exactly where we need to be. I like to believe that these dark experiences are gifts as much as are the joyous times in our lives. Sometimes, though, I am blind to the reason, I am blind to the gift.

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