Maybe you married that young boy/girl you once knew, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you got that job, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you got that promotion or bonus, or maybe you didn’t. If, regardless of did or didn’t, you were happy in the results, then you can chalk it up to God, good fortune, or maybe just the roll of the dice. If you weren’t happy, then you can ascribe it to bad luck or maybe just the roll of the dice.
But there is something more sinister at work with those did’s and didn’ts, something we never consider. What is at work, for good or bad, is circumstances. It always is circumstances that completes or foils our plans. Call it the alignment of the stars if you like; the fact of the matter is that circumstances are always at work. And more times than not, we have no control of the daily circumstances that guides our lives.
The problem is you can’t dissect circumstances, can’t put it under a microscope and analyze it and most times you can’t control it. It is a complex soup whose ingredients consist of facts, rumors, truths, lies, location, date, time, other people and/or randomness. Each of those ingredients are always in the soup although in different amounts. You certainly can stir the pot, thinking you got everything right, but, as they say, the proof is in the eating – what actually transpires. At times we can nudge things in our favor, but there is so much more that isn’t under our control.
What gives those events in our lives so much importance is to paraphrase the old saying – if you want an unpredictable life, give circumstances. It is the unpredictability that ultimately gets us from drawing our very first breath to drawing our very last breath. It is why when graduating from high school or college you can’t predict what will happen to you in the future. It is why I wrote in a previous musing directed at graduate students:
“What you learn as you get older is that you may think you know where you are going, but life has a funny way of creating detours and side trips. The destination you enter in your life’s GPS navigation system is not necessarily where the directions will take you. I promise you that 30, 40 or 50 years from now you will look back and confess that you had no idea that you would end up where you then are.”
So make your plans and live your life but just remember – Mr. Circumstances will be sitting on your shoulder every day you live.