The Universe Owes Us Nothing

A friend of mine was dumped by his girlfriend recently. Several years ago I would have said, "You'll find someone. There's someone for everyone."

At a holiday party awhile ago, a cousin told us about how she wasn't able to do what she wanted to do, to take a path she had chosen for herself. A family relative who was religious said, "As one door closes, another opens. It will all work out for the best."

Today my friend Jeff realized he had forgotten something. You know how it is. You remember you forgot something, but no matter how you try to jog your memory, it's just out of reach. I used to say, "If it was important, you'll remember." As if the universe knows what's important and what's not and would never let us forget something that we'll need.

But the universe does not owe us anything, and the universe does not have agency. It's easy to fall into these comforting mindsets, but that doesn't make them real.

There isn't someone for everyone. I know people who have been alone most of their lives, or who have never really had successful relationships. It really sucks. As a friend, I want so much to find them someone, but sometimes for whatever reason, they've been alone and there's nothing they can seem to do to get themselves in a happy relationship.

Things don't always work out for the best. Sometimes it's obvious that the worst happens instead. But most times there's just no way to know if it's better or worse given a turn of events. It's another platitude that makes us feel better when we've been stung, but it's not true. Of course, in hindsight, we might try to find a way to see a silver lining on a bad event, which is good. Maybe you can learn a lesson, or find a way to turn a bad situation into something positive, or find a way to improve yourself. But believing the universe is looking out for you and making sure that every bad thing that happens to you has a silver lining is delusional. Some things are just bad all around. Should you make the best of it? Absolutely. But do you have to sugar coat it? Hell no. That wouldn't be healthy.

And if you forget something, the universe isn't making sure you'll remember it just because it was important. When you forget, sometimes it will be really important things forever irretrievable. Just look at the tragedy of Alzheimer's and dementia as an example. Or if you write something down that's important, the universe isn't keeping track of that paperwork for you if you misplace it. It could be lost forever, along with some special memento or keepsake that you lost. We like to think that if it's important information, art, music, science, etc, that it can't be lost forever. But it can and does, probably even more often than important things being saved.

I've seen people comment about this on HDC regarding events like the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. We know that thousands and thousands of books were destroyed forever in that fire. We know this partly because other books in other places refer to the destroyed ones. That priceless information can never be retrieved.

Why am I saying all this? It sounds so depressing, doesn't it? But it's not. It's just reality.

And as the wonderful Carl Sagan said, "It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

So, as we get ready for the Rapture (or if you're like me, the After Rapture Parties on Sunday), let's all embrace reality. Sometimes it sucks, sometimes it hurts, but it's always completely real and honest.

And before you go giving me a hard time, let me just be clear. I am advocating pragmatism and realism. There's no need to be pessimistic, which I think is unhealthy. But in that vein, while it's helpful to have a positive attitude - I recommend it highly - it's actually delusional to be overly optimistic.

Pragmatism/Realism = Good

Optimism/Pessimism/thinking the universe is watching out for you = delusion = unhealthy.

One more thing before I go. I've found that most people are the way they are. In other words, if you're an optimist, you're probably always going to be that way. I can't really help being the way that I am, which is mostly pragmatic, with a tinge of pessimism in some circumstances and a pinch of optimism in others. I do consciously aim to be as pragmatic as possible, though, as I think being realistic is the healthiest approach to life. But I also try to have a positive outlook and perspective.

Have I gone off my medication? Does any of this make sense? I hope so! If not, send all hate mail to :P


EDIT: here are some definitions to clarify:

Delusion: a mistaken or unfounded opinion or idea; a belief held in the face of evidence to the contrary, that is resistant to all reason

Optimism: a state of mind in which one always hopes or expects that something good will happen; a general disposition to expect the best in all things

Pessimism: A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view; a general disposition to look on the dark side and to expect the worst in all things

Pragmatism: A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems; action or policy dictated by consideration of the immediate practical consequences rather than by theory or dogma; a philosophical system stressing practical consequences and values as standards by which the validity of concepts are to be determined

Realism: An inclination toward literal truth and pragmatism; awareness or acceptance of the facts and necessities of life; a practical rather than a moral or dogmatic view of things; Naturalism


  1. Do you know who gets munched on in zombie movies? Optimists. Zombies don't care about anyone's rainbow and puppy dog views on the universe.

  2. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Seriously! I agree completely, Andrew!
    And when the Zombie Apocalypse happens the overly optimistic people are getting their brains eaten first! :P

  3. Damn, this is close to what I want to write about. I completely agree with this. For example, I got out of my last relationship and decided I hated the type of girl I attracted. I went out and educated myself on attraction and dating. It was embarrassing at first to think I couldn't just "find the right girl" like my friends. Now I can't believe how great my dating life has become. My point is is you have to grab responsibility and educate yourself on how to fix the things that you don't like in your life.

  4. Yes, Jay, exactly. Be responsible and educate yourself.
    But also be realistic about the universe's indifference since it has no consciousness.

  5. Have I missed something? Why is the rapture going to happen before Sunday?
    New reader, here. I like what I've seen so far. I remember learning from psychology class that optimistic people were better off than others. However, I think that optimism was defined as believing that you have to the power to change things for the better and that things often aren't as bad as they seem/feel like. I always answer the glass half-full question with "both", but I suppose the optimist focuses on enjoying what is there and doing as much as they can with it.

  6. Hi Phil, yes it really depends on how you define optimism. I probably should amend the post with those definitions since I haven't done it in awhile. Thanks. And welcome to HDC. :)

  7. I don't know Frans. I agree, the brain retains information. But there's no guarantee you'll be able to retrieve that information later, especially on demand.
    I agree though, that our brains work in the background all the time. I have also woken up in the middle of the night thinking, "Eureka! I remember now!" But that's not what I'm referring to. And that doesn't Always happen. Sometimes we really do forget, or at least lose our ability to recall information when needed.
    What I'm really trying to say here though, is that the universe isn't watching your back, reminding you, holding your information for you. It's up to your brain if you remember. It's up to your ability to recall information.
    That's very cool, about the complex number problem. :) The brain is so amazing, isn't it?

  8. Well yeah, on demand is the biggest issue, and of course I don't think I always remember everything. I'm not a computer. :P It annoys me if people try to use such an argument against you along the lines of "if it were really important you'd be able to remember what you wanted to tell me."

  9. I've heard people say that. And I confess I've said it myself and used to believe it! It really is crazy thinking.
    Yeah, the universe records all your thoughts for you and then zaps it into your brain in case you forget something. But it only does it for important stuff. And of course the universe decides what's important, so you know it was trivial if you forget it completely.
    But if you do remember, then see? It was important! :P

  10. Ah yes, cognitive bias, our old friend.