Or are we merely the beneficiaries and victims of Existence, depending on the flap of the butterfly’s wings? Things happen. Shit happens. Life happens. Ups and downs and gutters and strikes. Why do things happen? Who knows why the vibrations among the atoms of the universe gang up on us or choose to shower us with joy. To make sense of it all would be as pointless as analyzing the meaning behind a children’s playground of teeter-totters, slides and swings.
But on a more macro level, that which we look forward to gives way to that which we make excuses for. I once edited a photo for someone online, a stranger. This photo was a diamond half buried and unpolished. Twenty minutes in Photoshop and the photo looked great, I think. I changed summer to fall, brought noon down to sunset and a greater reality emerged. I gave it back to the stranger who then took credit for the photo every chance he got. Part of me thought, “Oh well, if they ask him to take any more good photos, good luck to him.” I felt slighted, ripped off by my generosity. But worse than that, I felt someone advancing in the world in my place upon the ladder I had constructed. The obvious question is, where is my charitable spirit? If I made a balloon animal for a child who ran away and showed her friends, and then she took credit for making the balloon animal herself, I wonder if I would react with the same annoyance I felt toward the stranger.
Perhaps part of the root of my issues is that I was raised by Mrs. Masters Degree in Anatomy and Dr. Psychiatry, a.k.a. The Wizard of all knowledge and compassion. Together, they have been humble benefactors of knowledge and healing to the entire world I knew for many years, eclipsed maybe only by that guy who used to drop gold coins into the bell-ringing Santa’s red pale around Christmas each year. For years, they told me how special I am, how I am destined for a great purpose. That was reinforced by movies like Star Wars and Dune in which Christ-figures emerge one day to claim their greatness and fulfill their destiny. Freshman year of college, a teacher even pushed me to join the, “Young Leaders of Tomorrow,” which was a group of people destined for greatness, I would guess. I never went. I said to the teacher, “I’m not a future leader.” I was the Vice President of Campion Hall at the time, my dorm. I talked my way into it, with little to no qualifications in my mind. And once in, I found no peace. Every idea that seemed basic and honorable to me was debased by people striving for political correctness and harmony at the expense of honesty. Harmony at the expense of honesty. That explains a lot of what is wrong with the world. It’s just as bad as chaos for the sake of honesty. Perhaps that is the motivation of the True Believers in the Middle East (and Europe and America now it seems) who would rather see the world choking on a cloud of the black blood of the Earth, a burning fountain like a cut artery. They’d rather it all be chaos than go against a perceived will of Allah. Anyway, I never went to the group and I feel that in some ways I’ve chosen the path I now find myself on. Obviously, I’m not thrilled with the path that I’m on, wishing for more money, more responsibility, more experience, the usual. But I am not stupid to the eachoes of my past choices.
Historians, veterans, hell, even Robert McNamara admitted that the war in Vietnam was run the way it was because politically we couldn’t commit to a decisive course of action. Taking the long view, many of the world’s conflicts would end much more quickly if a nuclear weapon was dropped on an offending area. But to even suggest it is looked upon with disgust. There is an implication there that the better course of action is to slowly and surgically stab at an enemy, extending the conflict into years and stretching casualty lists beyond what a tactical nuclear weapon would conceivably inflict. People, of course, are worried about winning the battles only to lose the war. So perhaps the situation in the Middle East exists because we’ve allowed Existence to shape it that way.
When faced with our options, we chose one direction, like swimming left while underwater instead of going straight. The vacuum created in that space is quickly flooded by all the details and specifics of the rest of the world and the choices that the rest of the world is making from nanosecond to nanosecond.
Then where do I fit among my fellow humans as this special being I was told so much about? I’ve talked to the religious about being insignificant enough to be missed and I am assured that God notices and loves me especially because I’m very special to Him. But if everyone is special, than no one is special. If I think, therefore I am, and I stop thinking, then what am I as? As a rock? As a tree? Am I as important as the ground or the air or the wind? Or am I the singularity of everything that is me? Am I a lingering thought in the mind’s eye of creation? Or am I the pocket filled in when an infinite number of choices were made which affected all the other choices in the universe, colliding and avoiding in a zig-zag of consequences that resulted in my mother and father finding themselves at an altar in a church vowing to stay together forever in Love. Am I merely the consequences of actions that have already taken place? Or am I an actor who will one day exact upon the universe my own sets of choices which will result in the rest of existence progressing toward its infinite horizon? Will I claim my destiny?