[Almost] Everything Has A Use

For the last year or so I have really come to see, perhaps because of my affinity for learning from Life, that everything has a use. It’s one of the things I want to talk about before I leave for my ‘goodbye experiment.’

I don’t necessarily believe that everything happens for a reason. I sort of believe the quote by Kierkegaard (I think it was him?) that we can only understand life backward, but we must live it forward. We can see the thread of our life and how things connect, but I’m not sure that means it all happened for a reason. We may reach certain places or have certain experiences that lead us to other moments, experiences, and places, but…I’m not sure that means they all have a reason. It’s very tempting to look backwards and say, “Ah, X had to happen so I could reach Y,” but I really don’t believe that’s true. It’s just the choices we made along the way.

We like to tell stories about our lives, to find meaning (it is, I believe, a very necessary part of human existence and culture)- so looking back and connecting the dots in a way that is meaningful to us is highly valuable (it’s also highly valuable to notice what we tell of our story and how we tell it). But also, sometimes shit just happens in our life and we have to deal with it. Of course, how we deal with it sometimes determines where our life goes, but, again, that doesn’t mean there is a reason for all (or any) of it.

That said, I still believe that everything has a use. Every bit of our life has a use. Every bit of the Universe has a use. Everything that exists has a use.

Our emotions show us the truth of our heart and our experience.
Sadness shows us when we miss the mark for our desires.
Anger shows us when our values have been ignored or dismissed.
Joy shows us when we have received what we desire.
Love shows us the best of our desires and wishes for self and others.
They all have a use.

It’s easy to see where good things have a use. Houses, cars, stores, roads, telephone towers, forks, shrubbery. But ‘bad’ things also have their uses. Although, I will say that ‘bad’ things often only have one use.

Violence is sometimes necessary to topple dictators, Nazis, and other oppressors.
Hatred is useful because it shows us where we fear.
Intolerance is useful on the intolerant. (See ‘The paradox of tolerance.’)
Breaking promises is useful when our truth changes.
Lies are sometimes necessary to create safety. (See your local domestic violence shelter.)

There is one set of ‘things’ that are never useful, though. And those are the ‘-isms.’ The outcomes of unfairness and oppression and ranking differences judged from things we cannot change.

Religious oppression.

There is no use for any of them. In any case, those who participate in oppressing are only showing what they hate, and thereby, what they fear. (We can say that perhaps these things are useful because they show us exactly where others fear, which can help us educate them. Again, this may be the only useful thing about them. And I’m not sure it’s worth having them around for this particular type of ‘useful.’ I’d much rather we didn’t have them at all.)

In my life, everything has had a use.

My fear.
My pain.
My desire.
My perspective.
My ego deaths.
My joy.
My creativity.
My hope.
My love.
My truth.
My choices.
My mistakes.

It’s not that everything, every moment, of my life has been useful. It’s that there is always something useful in what’s going on in my life.

The most important part of coming to understand this, for me, is that it has helped me accept myself and the world as it is. This doesn’t mean the world isn’t a mess (it does need changing). But to change anything we have to see it clearly and accept where we it is/we are at this moment in time. And the understanding that everything has a use has helped me accept what’s going on- even (perhaps especially) when things are rough. There is something useful here, inside this difficulty, for my life, for my growth, for my understanding of the world.

As I said at the beginning of this post, perhaps I hold this view because I believe in learning from my life and changing because of what I learn. I suppose if someone refuses to learn then this viewpoint is moot. But I don’t personally know another way to think of the world or how to live. Life presents each of us with repeated lessons, with unique opportunities, with stories we want to break free from. And I believe the only thing we can do with those experiences is learn from them. That’s how we become who we are, who we want to be; it’s how we make the world a better place.

I believe everything is useful on this strange, human journey.

Thanks for being here with me, fellow travelers.
All my love,
Joanna :: xoxo

::: ::: ::: :::

If you need a pop culture reference to go along with this, here you go.

Thank U | Alanis Morissette

How ’bout getting off these antibiotics
How ’bout stopping eating when I’m full up
How ’bout them transparent dangling carrots
How ’bout that ever elusive kudo

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

How ’bout me not blaming you for everything
How ’bout me enjoying the moment for once
How ’bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
How ’bout grieving it all one at a time

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

The moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off of it
Was the moment I touched down

How ’bout no longer being masochistic
How ’bout remembering your divinity
How ’bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
How ’bout not equating death with stopping

Thank you India
Thank you providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you thank you silence



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