It’s just that after our friend Paul died I couldn’t help but think about fate. Destiny. Was his death pre-ordained? Was that the day he was supposed to leave this life? Or was his death random? Was it literally an accident and all that “accident” implies? I couldn’t help delving into this concept in my mind and in conversation with my husband this week.
Paul had asked us if we would come up to his town, which is two hours away from our home to do an improv show with him. We had done the show before and had a wonderful time. He called it ImPros Versus Joes and it lovingly pitted professional improvisers against willing and talented student improvisers. The thing is, he asked us to come up the week before Christmas. Much to our regret now, we did not go. My Mum had been in the hospital for eight weeks, only getting out a few weeks before Christmas. That left us with very little time to get Christmas together and we simply had to beg off, saying we would come through the winter or in the spring. Of course that is now an opportunity lost forever and there is nothing we can do to change that. That isn’t the heart of this post, but I was just using it as an illustration for my ponderings around this concept. Colin and I got into an interesting discussion about this the other day and I will tell you before I go any farther that neither of us settled on an answer. Not that there is an answer for this. But neither of us settled on our answer, our definitive thoughts. As such, I want to include you in the discussion.
I got to thinking, What if we had gone and done the show that day? What if, in doing so, we had a fun laugh-filled dinner with Paul and Linda, which led to writing a show for the four us, which led to the four of us working over the Victoria Day weekend when Paul died, far away from the scene of his accident. So. Would he have died anyway? Would something else have happened because it had to, because it needed to, because it was his time?
I don’t mean to indicate that our presence might have saved his life. What I am trying to put forth is the concept of the universe shifting. Our going that day would have shifted it. A little or a lot, but it would have shifted it. Or in the real case scenario that day, Paul’s turning the car around at the end of his driveway to go back for the cell phone he forgot would have shifted it. It would have shifted it by seconds or minutes, but would it have changed the outcome?
Is death random? Is our life pre-ordained? Is it all mapped out for us? Or do accidents happen? People talk about going toward the light and then turning back, only to wake up after surgery to find that their heart stopped for x number of minutes. The prevailing thought is “it was not their time.” Do you believe that? I had a full day of chores today and in the middle of them ran into my friend Ed whom I adore. I called his name out on the busy street three times. He heard me on the third shout and we stopped and chatted for a half hour. The conversation quickly turned to our friend Paul and this very subject of the randomness (or not) of the universe. Ed said to me, “That is so odd that you called and called to me because when I was a block away from you I thought I heard a man calling me and I looked around and no one was there.” Then he said, “I am so glad you kept calling me because I thought it was just my imagination again.” So I asked him, “Do you think that our personal universe just shifted, yours and mine?” We both agreed that it probably had. But to what degree? I wondered as I drove home about just how much it had shifted. Was it simply two friends who were destined to meet up? Would something awful/wonderful/silly/ exciting have happened to one of us if we had not met each other and lingered over a chat? Did one of us save the other from being hit by a car or from falling glass from a building? Or were we both invincible no matter what transpired as it was just not our day to die?
Death brings thoughts of death. So I pose this question to you? Would you like to know when you are going to die? Or would you rather it be random? Would you rather the kind of randomness the universe seems to scream when you lose someone suddenly? For my part, I choose random. Do I seize the day every day as I would if I knew exactly when I was going to die? No, not all of it. But I try to, and the ignorance around my demise is part of what makes life bliss for me.
Barbara: Well, then is it fate/destiny that you wrote this post at a moment when I have joined dearest friends at a wake and funeral of a beloved who died—from an illness—but suddenly and unexpectedly? And that you started this post before you knew I’d be going to this funeral? And that I have been pondering this very thing? Why have I been pondering it today? Because this beloved died at what can only be described as a “serendipitous” time for her beloved family. Not that there is anything “good” or “fine” about this death—it is sad, difficult, shocking and will in many ways be life-shifting for some of the family in terms of the future. But there are many amazing things about the timing—for instance, her brother and sister, both of whom live hours away, “happened” to be in town; and a niece is off to Africa in a week for an opportunity of a lifetime and will be gone for two years—at least this young woman had a chance to say goodbye. And these are just two of many strangely synchronistic alignments. How could I not ask the question you are asking? Like you, I don’t have an answer.
I do mostly feel like we have a predestined time-line. It doesn’t feel logical to believe that, but I do. Usually. And if I believe that, then to answer your next question: would I want to know my end-time? Absolutely not!!! I am definitive about that.
I want to thank you, Deb, for bringing up this subject. It is a tricky one, but it’s one I think most of us contemplate in our own ways at some point.