After my recent post about not believing that “there are no accidents,” I had a number of readers email and scold me. Of course there are no accidents!, they insisted.
Okay, okay. I know what you mean, and in a way I agree with you. Although I don’t believe God sends us hardship to build our character, or that when bad things happen we should just accept them as fate, I do think that it’s our job to pay attention, and that when we pay attention, we can make something out of whatever happens to us.
I used to quote a statistic to my students about how we are bombarded with information — something like 11 million bits of data available in every moment — and how writing can help us to narrow down that onslaught and pay attention to a more deliberate fraction of it. Most of the time, we don’t pay attention. We check our phones or daydream. I guess one could say that these (phones, daydreams) are data, too, but the point is, a lot of life escapes us because we are not letting it in. There’s a little exercise in a book I have: write down 5 smells you notice around you; 4 things on the floor or the ground; 3 things you see out the window or in your view; 5 qualities you notice in any other person in the room; a texture; 4 colors. What can you notice if you are awake to your life, right now? Could you make a poem out of it?
Well, to get to the point of this post. So the other night when my cousin texted me and said, “You’re on TV!” and when I watched the 10:00 edition of Evening Magazine (see the link) and saw this very old graduation picture (it appears for about 1 second) included in a story about O Wines, I had to think about what I would do with the information.
One thing I can do is order some wine. And for another, I can share the story with you.
So very cool to see my old friend Stacy on this path. What are you paying attention to today? As Mary Oliver asks, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I believe there are no accidents. I believe in look for the silver lining, there is a lesson I will learn, – I cry, that’s a good thing get the sorrow out. I rant and rave. But basically in all my 71 years the accidents, the things that seem bad were bad have been my best teachers.
I believe in feel the pain do it anyway. Actually I believe Bethany’s blogs all of them because she tells the truth – I know this is too long.
Being on TV – that’s something an old picture how did that ever happen.
I have to agree that — at least sometimes — the hardest things turn out to be my greatest teachers.
Surely you mean, Oliver’s “one wild and precious life?”
Of course you are right — and thank you! I have been reading Frederick Buechner, and got the words tangled up. “Beautiful and terrible things will happen,” he tells us. “Don’t be afraid.”
Oh, how true. That Rumi poem is one of my favorites.