Have you ever done the following?
“If in the 6th grade there was a section in our science class about clouds, and then a section on it in the 8th grade that taught me more about meteorology I might never have picked the field to study. And then if they hadn’t shown that video about radar in my undergraduate from the University of Oklahoma I might never have decided that I want to specialize in that and go to the University of Oklahoma. That interest in radar in clouds led me to the University of Wyoming. And then if I hadn’t met that girl Diane studying in the geology department who shared a love of games with me, leading to us taking turns hosting games nights. And then at one of those games nights if I hadn’t cooked chicken curry for some of her acquaintances from the geology department who were invited and who didn’t announce they were vegetarians beforehand and couldn’t eat what I cooked, causing my friend to be so insulted on my behalf that she refused to invite them again, thus causing her to invite two new people to replace them, one of them being my future wife. I would never have the wonderful life I have now.”
I am quite sure you have done this before. Maybe it’s about a special relationship, maybe it’s a great job, maybe it’s even a tragedy or negative situation. You could even go back further to how your parents met, grandparents, etc. But let’s take a closer look at this journey through our life. We look back at this chain of events and we see all the amazing decisions along the way that brought us through a path in life and it is somewhat mind-blowing. What we’re really doing is amazing ourselves about how large events in our life might never have happened if not for an amazing set of circumstances. And of course it is true that this chain of events lead you to where you are. Is it fate? Should we be blown away by all these amazing set of circumstances?
To answer this question we must ask ourselves another one. What is the alternative? There is none. Events happen in time in a chronological order in
which one event always leads to another. And every person has their own timeline. Every bit of life has a time line. And even some things that aren’t alive have a timeline like hurricanes, avalanches, earthquakes etc. All these events are happening and as each of us follows our path in time and space it is natural that we will intersect with the paths of other things in their timeline. There is no choice to this. If you met your future spouse in a convenient store as you were both reaching for the same bottle of coke we say this is remarkable how you were both thirsty that day and arrived at the same convenience store that was out of your neighborhood and decided to get yourself a beverage. One of you feeling like Pepsi that day would have changed the course of your entire life, but there would like be another major event as you met somebody else instead later, not knowing what you missed, with a different chain of events that you deem important. In fact what’s really interesting here is that, in a way, the fact that you chose Pepsi and not Coke that day allowed you to have the path you enjoy now but you would never even know the significance of that choice.
It seems also that part of the reason we are blown away by such a recounting of events, is that ultimately we are the ones who choose whether an event is even significant at all. Meeting a lover, a best friend, or getting that perfect job might be all things that we find extraordinary and thus the events that led up to them seem almost banal leading to such momentous events. But what if we were just to look at everything that happens in our lives as events? For that is what they are, with each one only have the significance that we ascribe to it. This walking into the convenience store before you met the love of your life and reached for that bottle of coke, is the same chain of events minus one link. The moment when you realized you were thirsty and wanted a coke two less links in the chain of events in your life. I think you get the picture.
So what should really blow our minds is that every event in our lives is the result of a complex chain of events, and that the littlest decision such as whether
you want a Pepsi or Coke can be equally as life changing. In one hand you realize it (choosing Coke) on the other hand you don’t (choosing Pepsi). Now if thinking that every one of the littlest decisions of your life might be the most important you ever made stresses you out, don’t let it. You are bound to make decisions, and even deciding not to anything about a situation is a decision and those decisions will lead to outcomes. It is unavoidable. I just think it’s a nice thought to think that every event might be as important as the next, and that any event might be one that is extremely significant even if we don’t know it at the time.
I am going to publish this post now instead of 5 minutes ago because I decided to heat up my chai because it got cold. And who knows, maybe that will be change the course of my life.
7 thoughts on “One Thing Leads to Another”
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Hi, Swarn! I’m wondering whether the complex chain of events that is your life has resulted in a moment where you will believe the authenticity of what I am going to write here (which is somehow molded and ultimately determined by the complex chain of events that is my life): I am blown away by this post.
I think I can believe it. 😉 Remarkable things are happening all the time. 🙂 The time you took to read and respond may lead to an entirely different set of events that will happen to you today. Although it looks like you don’t need much help with that for your unboring festival! 🙂
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I have often thought what if? What if I had not paused to retie my shoe before heading out the door, would I have been in the exact spot on the road where a tree fell?
What if that storm that spawned a killer F3 had tracked a mere 400 yards further east?
I was working in 45 feet of water one day, the air line to my regulator blew off, sending bubbles all about, I tried to find the line, but it was flailing around and I wasted precious seconds trying to grab it. I had to bail out and head to the surface. I probably sucked 2 quarts of water through my teeth before I got there. What if I had been 2 feet deeper?
…and your Pepsi/Coke scenario is easily as interesting.
I am not inclined to believe in destiny, but fate, which I would define as an unguided chain of events that can spwan other events each linked to the previous, plays out every day in our lives. It is a never ending process of probablilities. You can’t always see what’s coming.
I like your definition of fate, although I think many people might see them as the same thing, or that fate is something that is pre-determined by some supernatural force. In such an instance I am not sure how fate and destiny differ exactly. Fate and/or destiny are interesting concepts. It makes me wonder how old those concepts go back in history. When did people first start thinking in such a way. Probably before recorded history.
Spwan? Typo alert!
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