Reason vs Coincidence in Life

There are two categories of people: Those who believe that everything happens for a reason, and those who believe life is a series of coincidences. Those dichotic worldviews can deeply impact outlooks on life. Personally, I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason.

This might sound strange but whether that is true or not isn’t relevant. It’s the belief and your mindset that is most impactful.

I remember calling my brother after major life events and saying, “Oh well, everything happens for a reason.” And he would respond with, “Or do you give reason to everything happening?” The first time he asked me that I was stumped…but then I realized it didn’t matter. Sorry bro.

Regardless of whether everything happens for a reason or instead you give reason to everything happening, the end state is the same. You come away with a positive attitude and positive attitudes are what bring positivity to your life.

Why look at “Reason” Events in Your Life?

Do you ever look back on your life and try to pick out the key moments that brought you to where you are now? We all have had them. Forks in the road that can be paved paths with signs all around depicting its importance. However, other times the forks in the road would have multiple paths barely visible under a heavy brush where you didn’t know the destination.

It’s important to look back and understand these events because it will help you recognize those subtle, hidden forks that are to come in your life. To hopefully encourage you to take a look back at your “reason” events in your life, I wanted to share the pivotal moments in my life that have brought me to where I am. I’ll finish with a few upcoming forks I can see in the distance.

I’m understanding more and more the importance of the old proverb to “Know Thyself.” Mindfulness and self awareness is becoming the next “jogging” for health topic – being aware of major pivot points in your life is a key step to knowing thyself.

Reason Event #8 – Hobbies and Friends in Middle School

About the earliest I can remember consciously making decisions that I knew would affect my future was in middle school. Take that lightly, though. Definitely wasn’t analyzing and weighing options, but I did have at least an idea of where a decision would take me in the following year or two.

Middle School was not my favorite time. I remember that the group of friends I hung out with prior to middle school started going down a different path than I wanted to take. I didn’t quite fit in with my old friends who became the popular athletes (my sports were tennis and baseball and they didn’t exist in my middle school). On the other side of the spectrum were the nerds and band geeks and I’m proud to admit that though it wasn’t a perfect fit, I definitely found more in common with the musicians and math lovers than the muscle focused folk.

Choosing to associate more with the creative and academic groups in school was a somewhat subtle but impactful moment in my life.

The other middle school moment that helped define who I am today was all thanks to my incredible (yet slightly perfectionist) father. I had been playing piano since I could remember and reached a point at age 12 where I wanted to quit. Let’s face it, a middle school boy playing the piano is not typically looked as being super manly and cool. My Dad persisted though and “strongly encouraged” me to keep playing for one more year. If afterwards I wanted to quit, then I could.

I continued my piano lessons with my fantastic teacher and after a year…I had fallen back in love with piano. To this day, nothing can calm me down or clear my head like sitting down at the piano and “tickling the ivories”. It is a huge part of who I am and I cannot imagine where I’d be if I had quit. Thank you, Dad!

Reason Event #7 – Choosing College

When high school came, I enjoyed it much better than middle-school. I felt comfortable with the group of friends I had made and knew that I was going to be a pilot for a career. I had started flight lessons when I was 14 and got my Private Pilots License when I was 17.

The fork in the road at this time was where to go to college. I was mainly looking at Kansas State’s aviation program or Liberty University’s aviation program. There was a certain apeal to spreading my wings a little and leaving the treeless plains of Kansas for Virginia so I chose to head out to Lynchburg, VA…and that decision re-directed my life.

Not only did it build my relationship with my sister’s friend who eventually introduced me to my wife, but I also was fortunate enough to have some wonderful mentors that left a lasting impact on my life.

Reason Event #6 – Civilian vs Military

While at Liberty, I came to another decisioin point. I always loved the idea of being a fighter pilot but thought a life as a corportate pilot was more realistic. While I pursued corporate aviation, in my sophomore year at Liberty, I was able to meet and talk with some ex-military pilots. They mentored me and made me realize that my childhood dream of being a fighter-pilot was well within reach.

I went and talked to a recruiter and two years later I was in Newport, Rhode Island at Officer Candidate School (OCS) as a candidate Naval Aviator.

Everything was on track and I was looking forward to going to flight school in Pensacola after OCS. But, then I was notified to go visit the class officer about four days before I was to graduate from OCS and go to flight school.

“You’ve been disqualified from pilot for childhood asthma.” The words I dreaded to hear were coming straight at me from my class officer.

Reason Event #5 – “You’ve been disqualified…”

I sat in his office while he told me that I was not going to be heading to flight school after 3 months of screaming and rolling in the sand at OCS. I remember it very clearly as a few seconds of anger and confusion went over me. Then, surprisingly, a wave of peace filled me and I simply asked what my options were.

Long story short, I decided to stay in the military but in a new role believing that down the road I could transfer back to pilot with a waiver.

But you know what, everything happens for a reason…

Reason Event #4 – Meeting Mrs. Banyan

Following my time at OCS, since I wasn’t going to Pensacola for flight training, I ended up going to Virginia Beach for initial training in my new job. Oddly enough (or was it all part of a plan?), that same friend of my sister’s I had gotten to know in College was living in Virginia Beach.

I’m not even sure what exactly came over me, but out of the blue I reached out to her. We got together and I told her that I was going back to Lynchburg for the weekend and whether she had any single friends back there. That really was not my style but hey, I went with it…and I’m glad I did.

I met the future Mrs. Banyan that weekend and called my brother that night and said I’m going to marry that girl. Bought a ring at 4 months, proposed at 8 months, wedding at 13 months. Best decision of my life.

If I were to have followed the pilot route and went to Pensacola, I believe I wouldn’t have met my wife. If I hadn’t met her (who is the absolute perfect woman and the girl of my dreams), then I have no idea where or who I would be. I only know I would be worse off. Thank you, babe!

Reason Event #3 – “I’ll sign your waiver.”

We were in California with a fighter squadron so I was surrounded by all of these fighter pilots that I saw as rock stars. I had every intent of still becoming a fighter pilot and that meant getting a waiver from the flight doctor.

During the process of getting a waiver, we were able to experience the fighter pilot lifestyle in all of its glory…and dismay. I have the utmost respect for those fighter pilots but they have to sacrifice a lot. We saw struggling families, kids that didn’t know their parent, and lots of time away.

We spent months going back and forth about switching to pilot or not. Secretly, I hoped that the waiver request would come back denied so that we wouldn’t have to make the decision. But, I heard back from the flight doc that they would sign the waiver. Cool…now we had to make the decision. Thanks, doc.

We prayed about it a lot and decided that the fighter pilot life was not for us and our future kids. So, we made the difficult decision to not switch over to pilot. I would keep flying civilian planes to appease my flying bug but stick to my current, more family friendly career path in the Navy.

Which lead to the next fork in the road…

Reason Event #2 – Hawaii vs Virginia

I know…why is this even up for discussion? I’ll make this one pretty short.

We knew we were going to be starting our family and as much as we wanted to live in Hawaii for 3 years, we wanted to be close to family. It worked out perfectly. Not only did we have family support when we had our first child, but I ended up meeting a friend that mentored me to not accept anything less than my dream.

Time will tell the full significance of our move to Virginia rather than Hawaii. But I know in my gut that it will be the most major course correction in our lives.

Which brings us to the most recent event for us. It may be a repeat of a decision made in college, but much more difficult to make.

Reason Event #1 – Civilian vs Military…again

It’s a little bit of deja vu from my college days but with a very different scenario. I wrote about the change in my mindset during this timeframe in my post Paved Road? Or New Path? So I’m not going to go in a lot of detail but wanted to put it down here because it is the most recent fork in the road. We’ve decided to say goodbye to the active duty world. Not because I didn’t enjoy it. I cannot recommend joining the military enough. We are getting out because it didn’t line up with our dream for our lives.

What’s Next?

What’s the next fork in the road? Probably deciding how we will earn income outside of the military. Is it a government job, a corporate job, a small company, starting a business, airlines, non-profit, etc…? We are working things to set ourselves up properly but I don’t know what the final answer will be. I don’t know where the destination will be at the next turn in life’s journey. All I know is that it will be the right decision. It may be a detour to our dream destination, but it will keep us moving in the right direction. After all, by God’s grace, everything happens for a reason.

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