It’s summer. I’m sitting on my front porch. The temperature is balmy, the sky cloudless. I can hear birds chirping in the trees. And I’m wondering: How did I get here? I mean really … here … at this very moment in time and space.
I find myself thinking these kinds of thoughts more often as my eighth decade inexorably nears (don’t worry, it merely means I’m almost 70). I suppose it’s my sorry attempt to take account of my time on the planet. But I find it gets complicated.
If I believe in anything, it’s in a universe of infinite possibilities. For me that means if it can happen, given enough time, most likely it will. This kind of logic helps me to better understand why bad things happen to good people and vice versa.
But it doesn’t answer the question of how many millions, billions, if not trillions of conscious and unconscious decisions it took to get me sitting here, in this time and place — at this very moment!
Sure, being born to different parents or in a different place would have made a huge difference in how my life turned out. But it’s the little, seemingly negligible things that happen every moment of every day that can alter a life immeasurably.
What if I had turned my head right instead of left and didn’t see that bus barreling down on me, or didn’t serendipitously respond to that newspaper ad that led me to spend nearly three years overseas, or missed meeting by seconds that pretty young girl in the stairwell who turned out to be my loving wife of 37 years, or had sired two daughters instead of two sons, or gotten out of bed five minutes earlier or five minutes later, or … and on and on it goes.
We’re so eager to take credit when we succeed or excel at something, and so ready to beat ourselves up when we fall short or fail. We often overlook just how much luck plays into our lives.
Bottom line for me: I try to control what I can. But in the end, life’s a crapshoot. Today I happened to have had a good roll of the dice.
I found the following while cleaning out a drawer the other day. I wrote it sometime in the early 1970s as a callow twenty-something, and titled it “Ambling”:
An endless path
Dreams and schemes,
Faces and places,
Stumbling through experiences,
Crippled by confusion,
Forgotten within myself,
Unbeknownst to others,
Calloused feet tread
A million roads,
But know not a one.
And ears pounded by advice
Only a requiem to the past
And the sweet enchanting song of the Sirens
–for what lies ahead?!
Some things never change.