August 11, 2008

Making Sense of the Senseless

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”  — George Bernard Shaw

A random stabbing at the Olympics.

A 2-year-old child struck by a car.

The death by fire of a sleeping infant.

The loss of a job.

A small Midwestern community devastated by a tornado.

Who deserves to be on the receiving end of such events?

It’s easy to see how the law of cause and effect works in your life. If you work hard to be of service, your efforts are usually rewarded. When you treat people generously, they respond in kind. When you neglect your body, you will suffer from physical ailments.

But what of the events that occur for no apparent reason? They come unexpectedly, blinding us. We’re sent reeling, stunned by sudden, inexplicable catastrophe.

One thing is certain: No matter how well you live your life, one day a seemingly senseless, random event will happen to you.

It’s a waste of time and energy to worry about this fact of life. You cannot predict the future. Yet one simple truth can guide you even in the midst of chaos:

You have the capacity to handle whatever comes.

My family and I lived in Santa Cruz, California in 1989 when the big Loma Prieta earthquake struck. The quake hit hard. It shook us relentlessly for what seemed an eternity. We were without power for 18 hours.

Yet we managed our way through it.

In the storms of the winter of 2008, we lost power for five days. Cold and damp, we were glad to have a wood stove to keep warm.

And we managed our way through it.

Fact: You will experience grief, pain, and sorrow in this life.

The good news is that, in the end, you can make sense of it all by trusting yourself to respond appropriately. You’ll make mistakes, of course. But in the end, your personal power is fueled by trust in yourself.

And through trusting yourself, you can use what happens to create an even better life.


Think back to the many events you’ve lived through. Spend a few minutes today honoring your ability to respond appropriately to whatever life brings your way. Remember that ability should chaos strikes this week.

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