i’m not much of a fatalist. the movie serendipity is one of the most noxious fairy tales i’ve ever seen — due in part to the fact that i’ve known people to base their lives on the epistomology of this movie. which, for whatever odd reason, seems to somehow fall spectacularly to bits when held up to any kind of scrutiny, or when put into practice — causing tears, recriminations, and binge eating/drinking. if you haven’t seen it, allow me to sum up:
if you meet someone special, and a seemingly insignificant obstacle gets in your way (ie: the piece of paper she wrote her number on blows away when a street sweeper goes by), you should just assume that you’re not supposed to be with her right then.
instead, devise a series of concocted ideas and tell each other that if they all come together in exactly the right way, you’re meant to be together, so there. then, a few years later, you will find each other again and live happily ever after when fate brings you back together after you found her mysterious toenail clipping in your lasagna at maggiano’s. works every time.
or, in the real world, you’ll never see this person again, and you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what could have happened if you’d just written the damn number down again.
here’s why it’s dangerous — when taken to the extreme (as, of course, they do in the movie), you will start seeing “signs” everywhere. like a dude named peter? every other person you meet is peter. or married to a peter. or is watching peter pan. or says something petered out. or invokes saint peter to kick you out of heaven. or summons a wolf and stalks around to prokofiev. whatever. but these things don’t actually mean anything at all. you notice them precisely because you have peter on the brain — that they occur is merely coincidence. if you liked someone named…mark, perhaps, you would never notice all the peters floating around the world.
the human brain is a spectacular mechanism. complex, intricate, and fascinating, the brain is capable of doing things we haven’t even discovered yet. people tend to like to categorize things. if we don’t understand something, there’s a decent chance it will be put in the box with “unexplainable,” “miraculous,” “god,” “mystery,” etc. the fact is, however, that just because something is heretofore unexplained, it doesn’t follow that said thing is henceforth unexplainable. get it?
the unexplained is something i like to ponder. and today, my contemplatory musings ran away with me and led in an odd sort of direction.
i was trying to think of plausible explanations for a situation in my life. i thought carefully about the circumstances of the last ten months, wondering to myself how on earth so much time has passed. and a thought came into my head. what if the event that started all this hadn’t happened? june 17, 2008. what if that day had been different in one arbitrary way? what would have occured then? what would this year have looked like? without…i’m at a loss. without so much of what made it good.
2008 was a right shite year for me. the situation in question — we’ll call it the purple blanket* — lent me strength. gave me courage. made me smile, and gave me some of the highlights of that horrible year. without it, i would probably still have gotten to where i am now, but i would have fallen down a lot more on the way.
and i realized something. if that seemingly arbitrary event had robbed me of the purple blanket, i would still be on the path i am on right now. the main factors that influenced my choices remain unchanged without the purple blanket. in fact, without the purple blanket, i may have been even more resolved to the path i have chosen.
i say this because the purple blanket unwittingly gave me strength to walk away from something bad. reminded me gently that no, my chances for happiness are not over. they didn’t end in august of 2007 after all. that i am, in all my me-ness, okay. i’m okay just as i am, with all my baggage and mess, my foibles and quirks. just as i am. this gave me strength, gave me power back that had been stripped from me.
without that, others would have filled in that gap, but not before i got a lot more hurt. not before i got wounded more. and maybe not before something worse happened.
in essentials, however, the main factors would have remained the same. i’d have still met ana and my friends who worked so tirelessly to see obama elected. we connected on an entirely different level. and in the end, it may have been they who moved me forward. but i would have moved forward.
when i realized that, i had a startling moment of discovery. if june 17, 2008 had played out differently, if the purple blanket had been shunted away in a moving van and gone before my feet touched nashville soil, it would still be waiting for me in dc this summer.
when that thought flitted through my mind, i felt as though the world moved around me, as if i were falling through the air, feeling the wind raise the hairs on my arms in gooseflesh, or the charge of electricity that precedes a spring thunderstorm.
i would still find the purple blanket. because now, as it stands, i’m not moving to dc to get to it. not at all. but somehow knowing that if i hadn’t found it in june 2008, i would find it in june of 2009 makes me wonder. fills me with awe, really. while i certainly can’t say what would transpire if this parallel version of the last ten months had happened, i do know that i’d at least find the purple blanket.
and that leaves me to wonder about this thing called fate. i don’t know if i’d step out on a limb and say that certain things are meant to be. a billion times a billion different things could have happened in the past ten months, could have moved me in a different way entirely, but they didn’t. and had they hinged on who i found in the living room on june 17, 2008, i’d still be here, counting down.
and maybe weeks from now, i’d ask a different question. what would have happened if i’d found the purple blanket in 2008? i’d wonder then what it would have changed. and i might laugh at the whole thing. think to myself, “no way would we be here right now — it’s impossible.”
but i’m here. i exist here, april 3, 2009. thinking about the purple blanket. and it’s not impossible. however improbable, however unexplained, it happened.
maybe it’s serendipity after all. maybe it’s a miracle of life. or maybe, just maybe, in all the prosaic nature of finding something unexpected when you least expect it, the real miracle is a simple as looking at the odds, and seeing them beaten. maybe that’s all the explanation i need.
*if spinal tap may be your thing, please excuse the color scheme. i chose it for the memories, november days and halloween. some stranger things upon reflection still move us in the same direction. i can’t tell where it goes from here. we’ll soon find out — it’s been a year.
Posted on 3 April, 2009, in friends, love, meanderings and tagged alice in wonderland, authenticity, beacon, change, confusion, happy, life, love, perfect weekend, progress, surprise, thoughts, unique. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.