I’m back from a wonderful vacation full of writing, meeting great people, walking among the redwoods, and being awed by the majesty of the Pacific. There was a moment, though, when I thought I might not make it back, and which, reflecting on it days later, causes me to consider my fate, and fate in general.
Here’s the situation: I’m driving alone in a middle lane of a crowded freeway, maintaining a speed consistent with the traffic. I’m following my GPS, trying to determine which lane I should be in and when so as to make the next exit. The lanes on either side are full, so I’ll have to determine exactly the right moment to go. Then I hear a roar to my right as if a jet bound for SFO is headed right at me. As I gasp and grip the steering wheel tighter, I see the blur of a motorcycle flying between me and the car to my right, then weaving in and out of the lanes ahead and disappearing. After I regain my composure, I start to consider whether my encounter with this hurtling Harley could have been my fate.
Most of the time I can live very comfortably in denial, living by my motto of procrastination: never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow. Then a motorcycle flies by, or a doctor finds “something suspicious” on a mammogram, and I am forced to face the fact that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Is this fate, as in a predetermined future out there waiting for me? I suspect it's more about the physical world we live in.
And if I rouse myself from denial and think about this, will that change anything? If I drive down the freeway looking for the speeding motorcycle, will I be any safer, or only slow up traffic and miss the world I'm passing through.
OK, I've decided to redefine my position on this. I am not in denial, but I am living in the mystery. I cannot know what my fate is or when or how, so why slow down in anticipation.