In my own life, I am working on trusting right timing–trusting that when things happen at the moments that they do, there is something to the timing of it, and that I cannot rush timing.

In hindsight, I can see so many examples of right timing. In hindsight, I can see how perfectly all the little pieces alchemize like a mad, chaotic chemistry experiment, a dash of pain thrown into the recipe that would solidify and then dissolve so that it could caramelize and sweeten into something worth eating.

I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard, of people who were inexplicably thrown together at the right time.

The crash that happened and for seconds, time stopped, and then everyone walked straight into their role—holding the victim, calling the police, the nurse or doctor who happened to be right there to offer life-saving care.

And then there are the times when things don’t work out, but even those have the power to transform. I will never forget being newly licensed at sixteen years old, driving very slowly past an accident in which a driver had, moments before, hit a pedestrian. The pedestrian was on her back, blood pooling around her body. The driver—she was also about sixteen years old, from the look of her. The shock of hitting and clearly harming another human being had hit her so hard that she had fallen out of the driver’s side of her car, door open, and she was on her knees, screaming No, no, no and it was terrible—

—and forevermore it has stayed with me that in a moment any one of us can make an inadvertent mistake that will change the course of our lives, that presence matters, that we all deserve compassion, because that could have been me, could have been you, could have been any of us who were simply driving, or simply walking across a street. No one wakes up in the morning, thinking, “This will be it. After I get into the car, today, everything changes,” or “This will be it. When I cross that street today, everything changes.”

It came to me that day how short our lives really are, and how much I want to use mine for something more than the acquiring of things, the rushing from one place to another, the not being present until forced to be, the complaining, the settling.

When I take my attention off of how I feel it all should be happening right now, and instead decide to start trusting right timing, I am reminded of how grateful I have always been that things worked out however they have.

I become grateful for the jobs that didn’t work out, even if at the time I was wringing my hands (otherwise, I might not be right here, in this job).

I become grateful for the relationships that didn’t work out, even if at the time I was in such pain (otherwise, I might not have been freed up for this one, right now).

I also become grateful for the hard decisions of those moments, the decision that I was not going to settle. That decision was the catalyst for something more, even if at the time the decision to change felt about as difficult as the decision to let things go on as they were.

Sometimes, when I am in moments of deep suffering, suffering that makes no sense whatsoever, the only thing I can do is decide that at some point, I will see the right timing. Maybe not now, and maybe not for years, but life has taught me that the pieces thread together in their own way.

Life has taught me that we cannot avoid the car crashes, but we can decide to make meaning of them. Meaning-making will toughen you at the same time that it sweetens you. It used to seem pithy to me, frivolous, to think of finding meaning in things that were difficult—the kind of thing only naive people might think of.

Then I was hit by enough situations that would have broken me had I not decided to bend in the direction of finding meaning. The meaning has carried me through, shored up my psychological resolve, stemmed the anxiety of an uncertain world, made it so that I can sleep at night.

We each find our own way, and in the balance of things, I think that each way is its own contribution. Some of us see car crashes and decide to avoid cars. Others of us ruthlessly fight for tougher driving laws so that we can avoid crashes altogether. Others of us will try to make cars safer or evolve the technology.

Me, I accept that in this nonsensical world I will not be able to avoid life’s crashes, but in every moment otherwise I will do what I can with my puny two hands and my voice to act as a sort of modern-day witch, invoking words and images to alchemize whatever pain I can for myself or others.

Meaning-making is the way that I know, so it is what I give.