I didn’t sign up for this…Did I?

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: Games, Musings, Spirituality |

We’ve all installed software on our computers. We’re familiar with the advice to read every contract before signing it, right? Yet, right before the install there is a LOT of text explaining in a LOT of detail what the “terms of use” are. I will guess that 98% of us don’t read every word of those agreements before clicking the “I accept” button. We just want to get Quest for Egyptian Treasure in the Caves of Montana our new Accounting Software installed, already, dangit! What I usually do is scroll down a few pages so the software will “think” I read it. πŸ™‚ For some reason that makes me feel better. But, and here’s the point, I know on some level that even though I haven’t read the thing, I’m bound by the terms stated since I did, of my own free will, click that “accept” button.

Here in the WordPress . com help forum(s) I see many questions along the lines of “Why did my Blog get suspended? I’m a good person; I’m a nice person, but those despots froze me out!” The answer comes back: “Because you violated the Terms of Service“. Sometimes that’s enough to cause the blogger to actually read the terms, but often they’ll come back and say “I didn’t know this was illegal or that wasn’t permitted! They’re picking on me!”

Now I, for one, did read the WP TOS, but, I haven’t always read everything I’ve ever signed or agreed too. I see the Universe as having a terms of service agreement that we signed onto at birth (or even before—I’m not sure how these things work). And I’ve been confused, bewildered and unhappy when I receive feedback from the Universe that seems to come out of nowhere. It’s just these things we’ve agreed to, but perhaps not consciously, that cause the “glitches” in our lives, in my opinion.


It’s bold, and for some, uncomfortable to think this way. It just doesn’t feel right to me, though, to suppose that things happen “out of the blue” for no reason. There is a wonderful book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold Kushner which I would recommend if you don’t like or agree with my point of view. In it, Rabbi Kushner states that there is indeed random evil in the world, and provides a warm and compassionate way to deal with that. He writes of experiencing the death of his young son, and being amazed by comments made to him in his grief. Some were along the lines of “Well, that’s God’s plan for you, it will make you stronger!” First of all, this is not the Rabbi’s belief, although it may be that of the person offering the “condolence”, but also even if it were true, it’s probably not what a grieving parent needs or wants to hear right away. I would never say anything like that to someone, or worse still—and I’ve heard this often—“Well, you must have attracted that into your life in some way.”

I certainly cannot be presumptuous enough to know why a person’s path goes the way it does, and while I may not see death as a “bad” thing, per se (more on that in a minute) the pain of loss and separation is very real, and I can, at the very least, offer compassion for that.

Not every culture views death as a “bad” thing, but rather as another step on the spiritual journey. This tends to be my view. I am not a person of faith, so I cannot “know” this to be the case. If I’m wrong, I suppose I’ll find out the “real deal” eventually, or I’ll never know! I’m comfortable either way. All I know is it suits me and allows my life to be more pleasurable and useful if I believe I can choose its circumstances. The “truth” in this case, pragmatist that I am, matters less to me than the joy.

So, do “bad” things happen? I believe nearly every one of us experiences events or interactions which do not give us pleasure. I have these experiences often, although not nearly as often as I used to. Once I get past the initial anger, or grief, or hurt, I can often see these occasions as real opportunities towards more growth and joy. The main thing is to not focus on what “I don’t like”. I will give myself a little time to indulge in that not-good feeling, because it actually makes me feel better to engage it rather than repress it. I also have some therapeutic and meditative tools which come in very handy at such times. It makes the most sense to me to then go on to focus on what I do like, or how things are good in my life. After all, that’s what I want more of, so it feels best to go there!

If we want to, we can edit the Terms of Service of our Lives.

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9 Responses to “I didn’t sign up for this…Did I?”

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The TOS of our lives… I love that! I can’t tell you how often I’ve wanted to go back and edit the TOS of my life, particularly when I’ve started out on a different path… I just can’t seem to read the fine print, though. πŸ˜‰

I don’t read that many notices before signing up either; they’re so long and use terms most people can’t follow, so there seems little point for something I’m only going to use privately anyway. I do read the TOS for anything which is going on public display, though, like WP or Flickr. And if I’m not sure about something, then I check the TOS, or at least an FAQ. If more people would do that it would cut down on at least 5% of forum questions.

And I agree that most bad things happen in our lives for a reason… the problem is, it’s not always clear to us why, and so it becomes easy to think that it either happens randomly or that we’ve brought it on ourselves. Nothing is ever as black and white as it’s made out to be; sometimes bad things happen to people for reasons they can’t explain, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason… it’s not so much a matter of questioning the feeling as turning it around to something we can use.

I also think though that sometimes things do just happen, like someone dying. An aged death is natural, but if a person is murdered for no reason, I find that hard to explain… perhaps there was a reason someone committed the murder, but why that person, why that moment? Is that ever something we can really explain?

In the end I just try to look at what I’m feeling and acknowledge it; sometimes it can help us grow, but trying to understand it too much just raises more questions… of course, finding the right balance is easier said than done.:)

Interesting post, Muse. Thanks! I’ll have to see if I can find the meaning of life somewhere within the Terms of Service… might be worth a look. πŸ˜€

when random acts of evil or kindness happen to me, i put it down to karma. simple, i know! i just like to think that my random acts of evil or kindness goes around and comes back around to me. but i haven’t found a theory to explain unjust deaths yet; so far, i’m really lucky that the people i’m close to are still alive. i’ve only been to one funeral in my life, and that is my maternal grandfather who i never got the chance to know.

Excellent post, Muse!

Many times I wish I could go back and start afresh, but then I come to my senses I realise it is what’s happened to us that makes us, us.

As the saying goes: “Life is wasted on the young” I just wish I had more time.

Hello cj! I’m glad you liked the “Terms of Service” for our lives. I have renegotiated mine several times. Even if there are things I’m not really allowed to change, I act as if I can, and it works out pretty well.

I agree with you about how it would help us all if everyone read TOS for WP and Flickr in advance. It irks me (although I’m trying to take the higher road πŸ˜‰ ) that some don’t want to take the responsibility for knowing the terms of participation, but then complain when they run up against a rule they don’t like.

I appreciate what you said about things like murders seeming just to happen. You may well be correct, there. I don’t think I can imagine a time I’ll be able to explain things like that, but some part of me trusts that there is an explanation, even if I can’t find or understand it here in my limited perspective.

I’m completely with you in your penultimate paragraph. Too much analysis and questioning can take the joy from the moment. Much better to just learn what we can from a situation and move on! …..If you do find the meaning of life in that TOS, please share it with the rest of us ❗ 8)

sulz, very interesting view you have of random acts of evil or kindness! I believe in a kind of karma, too. I don’t always know who set the laws in motion, or how it was done, but when I look at a circumstance I do have to acknowledge my responsibility in it somehow. πŸ™‚

Thank you very much, Will. I agree, I wouldn’t change anything that has made “me me.” After all, who else would I be? I’m not out to change the past, but if I can tweak the rules a bit to create a more joyful present and future, I’m all for that. πŸ˜‰ Well, I think you have all the time there is, Will, but that’s just me. 8)

Great post, Muse.
To me there’s only one TOS
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. If you follow this one, you can eliminate the small print. πŸ™‚

Thanks, yogini. I believe in “do unto others” wholeheartedly, and I agree, it’s a great place to start. Being me, I find small print anywhere difficult to walk away from…Oh, well. For some of us the fun is in the details. πŸ˜€

I too like the life TOS. I highly suspect that they got me drunk and then talked me into pressing the “accept” button (which had been purposely labeled “have another beer” after which I woke up with a doctor slapping me on the butt and a really bad hangover.

Richard, ROTFL!!! Now that I’ve picked myself up from the floor, I can agree wholeheartedly. You’ve given me the explanation I have sought: it was the beer! When I was a baby and a toddler, my fam tell me, I had a bad attitude. I was unimpressed with this “earth game thing”, and I acted like: “No, not again—who signed me up for this!” Amen, brother πŸ™‚

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