Critical path

How often have you heard the expression “things happen for a reason” dragged out of the Big Box Of Clichés? This dribble of dubious wisdom is seldom intended as a vote of confidence in the basic principle of cause-and-effect. Rather, it’s a means for people to convince themselves – or others – that they haven’t just been severely fucked over by a random set of circumstances.

For some reason+, many people take great comfort in the idea that their life proceeds according to some Great Plan. This would seem to imply that the Almighty has an enormous Gantt chart (with their name on it) stuck up on the wall of His office. Presumably, He scrutinises it every so often when He has a free moment in between listening for falling sparrows, moving in mysterious ways++ and attending to the ten trillion other items on His “to do” list for today.

I find it vaguely irritating when people burble on about how a particular sequence of events led up to some or other auspicious occurrence – as if this is final definitive proof of how this specific thing was “meant to be”. Although this is true after a fashion, they are cheerfully ignoring the fact that it is also true for every single sodding event in the entire history of time.

That translates into a shitload of Gantt charts, doesn’t it?

+ i.e: wilful stupidity

++ this is quite a popular pastime in Cape Town drinking establishments. It’s what happens when you mix poor co-ordination, alcohol and the desire to dance in equal parts


21 thoughts on “Critical path

  1. So, you are saying that the fact that I angered a man at a 4 x 4 day which lead me to meet another man who then later introduced me to Flyboy was purely coincidental and not part of the Grand Plan?

    Why did no one tell me?


  2. The only ‘maxim’ I believe in is more scientific than bloody ‘things happen for a reason’….”Every action has a reaction”…or, to be more blunt, Choices have consequences..even the minor shit that happens is because of a choice somewhere along the way.

    So that’s why I spend a lot of my time in bed sleeping…avoiding the consequences, you see.



  3. Chaos theory, in nature anyway, suggests that everything is linked. The trite ‘butterfly flapping its wings in the Congo causing a hurricane in Florida’ analogy.

    However, there is no chaos like human chaos. We stuff up everything we touch, putting hurricanes, volcanoes and earthquakes to shame.

    So in a way, everything does happen for a reason. Not according to some great plan, but as a consequence of poor planning or a total lack thereof. We cause our own chaos, as street philosopher, journalist and radio star Peas -on-Toast reminds us.


  4. katt: Yup. Telling you wasn’t part of the Plan.

    wendz: Except for the consequence of pillow wrinkles on your face, naturally.

    anne: Ah yes, but that was simply meant to be.

    inyoka: How about the chaos of relationships? Gives a whole new meaning to the term “strange attractors”, doesn’t it?


  5. I wrote about things happening for a reason the other day, and how I started to believe it.

    Perhaps I’ve been brainwashed.

    “Rather, it’s a means for people to convince themselves – or others – that they haven’t just been severely fucked over by a random set of circumstances.”

    I have been fucked over countless times, but am willing to ve convinced it was all for the greater cause.

    If only I can transpose this brainwashing into something more useful: stopping smoking for instance.


  6. I have a ‘grand plan’ that gets tweaked on a daily basis to fit in the random consequences of stupid things i did since the day i was born. lets say i tripped going up the stairs onto teh stage in high school. Yesterday, a glass fell off teh shelf next to me without me touching it and shattered. hows that for randomness.


  7. peas: Look, it’s a bit like seeing shapes in the clouds: the reality is nothing more than a collection of teeny tiny water droplets – the “pattern” only exists in your mind.

    insane insomniac: Pretty good, although I generally prefer flipping a coin.

    bth: Are you laughing or trying to draw me into a debate about the notional gender of a non-existent deity? If it’s the latter, all I have to say is “hah!”


  8. I can totally understand where you’re coming from, having looked at things that way myself at one point after some pretty bad life experiences. Even just watching the news makes you feel like the whole world has gone crazy, and there’s no sense or order to anything.

    Angel, I agree with you to an extent…I believe in free will. I also don’t believe that life here is a rose garden, or that we’re always going to be protected from bad things happening to us. God himself experienced misery here…the long term result of giving us all choice. But he comforts and helps me through the painful experiences, and I love the promise that he will “wipe every tear from their eyes”, and will destroy death one day.

    (Kyknoord, I found your site via The Tart’s. Apologies for the long comment! 🙂


  9. I have used that phrase on occasion in the past. I guess I tend towards optimism (while always preparing for the worst in case I’m wrong). So, I guess like to consider that there is something to be learned from even the worst shit that is dished out which isn’t exactly the same.


  10. um, hate to sound dof but for a Sunday night read, my god I had to do it twice!

    I don’t know hey, why can’t things happen for a reason? I don’t believe in him/ her up there but reckon everyone makes a decision that leads down some path!

    Each to their own…whatever makes your bum hum!


  11. angel: If I gave you the wool, would you make one for me as well?

    kat: Show me the heavenly handkerchief and I’ll be prepared to re-evaluate my viewpoint. Until then, how about we call a truce?

    luke: Quite right. You know I prefer Skoota.

    sophie: Optimism is overrated in my opinion, but hey – whatever floats your boat.

    kabintsimbi: “…bum hum…”? Oh man, that expression is truly beautiful 😀 I have to agree that this can be pretty heavy going for a Sunday night – maybe I should expand my disclaimer.

    Ol’ Hoss: Things are easier to deal with when you believe the universe is out to get you.


  12. “it is also true for every single sodding event in the entire history of time.”

    So it ALL happens for a reason?!?

    Whoa dude.



  13. Didn’t Gants, the food company based in Somerset West go bust? I think the brand name may still be around but I’m sure the company went bust.

    Proof that no one can rely on Gants to get you anwhere.


  14. I think saying that is a last resort when you’re trying to make someone feel better and really, you’re at a loss for words.
    Or, y’know, life really sux and you’re trying to give yourself a reason to live.


  15. I wish that there was a reason or Prime Mover in the Universe, then atleast I would know which direction to direct my army of bloodsucking lawyers to attack and destroy…and maybe I could recoup some of my losses.

    Most people first heard about Chaos theory via Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park…in reality a butterfly flapping it’s wings will only attract a predator and get devoured..
    so don’t flap your wings too much.


  16. Will make a point of adding that to my list of reasons/excuses why I drink/was drunk/was hungover/arrived late/didn’t arrive or my own recent favorite arrive the following day and wonder why no-one is there??


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