One of the things I have always found myself having difficulty holding space for are the seemingly opposing beliefs of “everything happens for a reason” and “we all have free will.”
These are common, basic, core, fundamental beliefs that seem to exist within the human race.
And in a way, I see and honor both of these… but it always felt weird that I could hold space and honor both of these ideas when they seem to oppose each other.
This past weekend, it finally clicked, and, at least in my mind, a way that both honors and explains the existence of both of these ideas came to me as this intuitive hit:
While we do have free will, the universe still helps to lead us down the path where we need to be.
Allow me to explain.
On Sunday morning the spouse and I planned to take our dog for an early morning hike up in the mountains. The day was seemingly no different than any other, but as sometimes happens: little inconsequential things happened that shifted our schedule, our plan for the day.
So then we had a choice: do we still go way up in the mountains? Do we go to that other spot halfway up a different mountain that’s closer, so we’re still back home when we want to be?
We decided to stick to our original plan. And in sticking to our original plan, a few other tiny things, the kind of things you usually don’t even pay any thought, happened. It slowed down our morning.
And so, we were heading back down the mountain about an hour after I originally thought we’d already be back home.
Which meant I was a few car lengths behind on the highway when, in just one of those freak accidents, a truck flipped over.
I didn’t even see it happen. There were a couple of semis in front of us, and we were going downhill, and just in a moment everyone was driving and then everyone was slamming on their breaks.
I didn’t see it happen, but instantly, in my body, I just knew it was an accident. I left the spouse and the dog in the car to run and see what happened to see how I could help. (Spouse then pulled off to the side, left the car running for our dog, and helped direct traffic around the accident.)
I am happy to say that the driver was okay. The driver’s dogs were okay. I actually feel like I did more to comfort the driver’s wife, who had been in a different vehicle with her mother driving back from their family camping trip, than I was able to do for the driver. The truck had overturned in a way that meant we had to wait for EMTs to arrived and get him cut out, but he did walk away from his totaled truck just shaken up and a little sore. I held his wife’s hand and just stayed present with her so that she had someone while she waited for her husband to be freed from his truck.
And later I got home and I started thinking about all those little things. Those inconsequential things about our day that are just those things that we tend to laugh off if we even notice them.
I thought, “You know, I don’t think there was any predestined scribe that said I had to be there to help at the accident… but it sure feels like the universe wanted me to be there.”
Free will exists, after all… and I could have stayed in my car, after all other people stopped and ran to see how they could help too (the first group of us who arrived at the truck actually turned away good samaritans who stopped later to help, because we had everything covered).
There is even the free will further back in the morning when we could have decided to go up a completely different road into a different part of the mountains, and hike a different trail, because we were already leaving later than we planned.
All the universe did was help set into motion tiny little things that pushed our schedule, but the decisions were still made by the spouse and myself as to how to respond and carry out our plans for the day.
Maybe the accident wasn’t even inevitable. Maybe it was just one of many possibilities for what could have happened in the life of the driver that morning. But it was a potential, because the wind and angels and everything was just right for that freak accident to happen.
But it was a possibility, and the universe wanted me there in case it happened, but it was still my choice to even get out of the car to help.
So maybe things do happen for a reason, you know? But not in the way that we have no control over them. The universe just tries to make sure we are where we need to be when we are able to help, or when there is an experience our soul has agreed to presents itself — even those experiences we wish didn’t happen, but our soul previously signed up for it to happen because of the choices we will be faced with later which allow us to create something beautiful where there once was darkness.
I certainly don’t have it all figured out. But I don’t believe that we’re just on a stage following a script that can’t be changed.
More than ever I truly believe that universe just presents us with opportunities. How we respond is our free will, our choice, our human mind calculating the deciding.
We don’t have to go through the door, but when we do, we are answering a call from the universe itself.