With everything that’s been happening in 2020, you might find yourself sometimes asking why is this happening to me?
I’ve also written about a next-level insight that I had around this, which is that maybe things are just happening, and it’s not about you.
While listening to a talk on meditation by the late Zen philosopher Alan Watts, I was reminded about yet another level to this construct of how life is happening.
Listen to What You Hear
Close your eyes and allow yourself to hear the sounds going on around you. Don’t try to identify the sounds or label them with names. Allow them to be there, then let them go. Take the same approach with sounds that arise within you — the thoughts in your head. Notice how sounds enter and dissipate. We can’t hold onto them if we wanted to.
Watts explains what tends to happen after you’ve been listening for a while:
soon you will find that the so-called outside world and the so-called inside world come together. They are a happening. Your thoughts are a happening, just like the sounds going on outside. And everything is simply a happening. And all you’re doing is watching it. 
To truly embody the knowledge of this, pause for a moment and try this for yourself. Simply listen to the sounds. Notice what you hear. Birds chirp. Cars whiz by. A leaf blower blows. Horns honk. Doors open and close. An elevator dings. People talk.
Everything is simply a happening.
This is life: not happening to you, not happening for you, just happening.
But that doesn’t mean you’re irrelevant to what’s happening.
It’s Happening, But You’re Involved
Sound is a wave. What creates the sound is that the wave hits your ear drum. The sound wouldn’t exist without your presence in the place where you are right now.
So the sounds you hear exist because of you. You’re the one creating the sound.
The same applies to what we see and what we feel. Without the light wave bouncing off your retina you wouldn’t see light. What determines whether you feel hot or cool is the nerve endings in your skin.
You might notice how certain sounds cause you to feel expansion or contraction within your body, or how your body responds when a certain name comes up on your phone, or in response to different people who may walk into the room.
All of this is life, and it is alive within you.
And you might notice how these sensations create different thoughts or expressions, prompting you to scream or yell in rage or ecstasy, or causing you to remain quiet. And how your actions, in turn, impact those around you, setting off chain reactions, inspiring or irritating others who come into contact with you.
This is life: it is happening both around you, within you, and through you.
Here’s the invitation: the next time you find yourself asking why is this happening to me? try this reframe:
What if it’s not happening to you, but it’s happening through you?