Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 19, 2005, Herald Journal

Take that, XLR 4000

By LIZ HELLMANN

Everything happens for a reason.

That doesn’t mean you get to know what the reason is, or that you’ll like it if you do.

For example, my car recently needed repairs totaling about half of the price of the car.

What could possibly be the reason for that, short of driving me into shoes with holes in the bottoms?

To my chagrin, the only reasonable and productive conclusion I could come to was that the cost of the repairs would be a first-hand lesson in how expensive it is to own a car.

A lesson shot my way by the evil forces of the universe to thwart my plan of buying a newer vehicle sometime in the future.

A vehicle in a which a new fuel pump won’t cost half of the car’s value.

No, it’s not an unusually expensive fuel pump.

Let’s just say the car is vintage.

Well, the joke is on them. I’m still going to buy a new car. . . after I stop making payments on my new fuel pump.

So, if there is indeed a reason for everything, does this mean we should be happy with everything that befalls us?

There has to be a line somewhere. I’m not about to break out a party every time I learn something from the hard knocks of life.

Can you imagine? Your brakes go bad and you break out the champagne.

You’ve heard the saying, “If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”

So, let’s say you walk into work after your beloved dog dies, your car has been repossessed, you were forced to take out a second mortgage on your house so little Annie can get braces, and it’s a bad hair day.

Your boss comes up to tell you that most of your job responsibilities have been taken over by a machine, the XLR 4000, and you are downsized to only 20 hours a week.

And since the rest of your responsibilities are technically made obsolete by the XLR 4000 anyway, the boss explains he is just letting you stick around as a favor.

As a result, your hourly wage is cut. (And you thought next-to-nothing didn’t divide in half.)

There are a million clichés one could offer in this instance.

Keep your head up.

Look for the silver lining.

When God closes a door, he opens a window.

Too bad when you hear that phrase you are usually in such a state of mind, you pray the window is on the top floor so you can jump out.

The fact is, the situation just plain stinks.

Who cares if there is a reason behind it?

Many people like to call themselves realists. They are realistic about the situation, and don’t push for something they see as highly improbable.

It makes no difference to them what the rhyme or reason is behind the circumstances, it’s just the way it is.

While there are many redeeming qualities to be found in taking this approach, it negates one important aspect. Hope.

If you didn’t have any hope that things would get better, what good would it do to keep trying?

If you know that there is a reason behind everything, then there is reason to hope.

Maybe your boss was thinking of downsizing the whole department and just wanted to test out the XLR 4000 with your job position first. (Wait, there’s more.)

But just when he started to feel confident the machine could do a better job, it committed a fatal programming error and exploded, setting half of the office on fire.

The owner of the company fired your boss after discovering the XLR 4000 was given poor performance reviews and listed in the top 10 deadliest office software on the market.

After reviewing your job performance, the owner then promoted you to your boss’ position, paying you a handsome salary to get the office back up and running.

Or maybe, you can hold on to your mediocre job just long enough for Annie to get those braces on and off. With her beautiful pearly whites, she climbs straight to the top of America’s Next Top Model, and buys you a condo in Florida.

Then again, maybe you scrape through for a couple months and find another job that pays you a modest salary, and you slowly work your way out of the hole.

Some options may seem more glamorous than others, but the point is, there are options.

There is a reason behind everything, but don’t confuse the fact that there is a reason with knowing exactly what that reason is.

Since none of us ordered the universe, we cannot predict what is going to happen, or why something did happen.

And the reason behind that is so we always have hope. If we knew exactly how things were going to happen, life would be boring.

We wouldn’t even try many things, because we would already know what would happen.

If we knew we would fail, we wouldn’t have hope.

If we don’t have hope, then there truly would be no reason to do anything.

Not succeeding may be disappointing, but not even trying is failing, no matter what the reason is.


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