Does anyone believe in complete coincidence? I mean anarchy; pure chaos theory, like The Fly actor kept talking about in Jurassic Park (speaking of random, I recently happened upon The Fly on television, over a tantalizing Salisbury steak frozen dinner (they were out of meatloaf); the scene where Geena Davis and The Fly guy have just finished making or are just about to make love, and The Fly’s stunt double grabs hold of an overhanging pipe and launches into this silent, five-minute, Olympic-caliber gymnastic routine; one of the strongest cinematic arguments for unadulterated happenstance I have ever seen).
But is even that coincidence? Surely the director had an affinity for gymnastics, the producer had a cousin in the circus, the stunt double was a former Olympic hopeful. Surely nothing just happens.
Or is this just an attempt to achieve meaning in life by reducing everything to a series of pithy aphorisms, like Hippocrates’: “Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience misleading, judgment difficult”? (Why do we feel compelled to sight great wisdom parenthetically? As though there is any such thing as original thought, original wisdom. Don’t all great thinkers stand on one anothers’ shoulders? Does punctuation truly make anything more or less relevant?)
And if there is only coincidence, then what of bad luck? Is it not common knowledge that some people have it and some people don’t? Are there such things as pure flukes? What of predictability? What of pattern? What of hope?
I attended a wedding reception once where the father of the groom stood, as if to make a toast, and declared:
“I don’t believe in ‘the one.’ That each of us has one perfect person out there, waiting for us to become one perfect whole. There is no such thing as destiny. Love is not written in the stars. We each find someone that we find reasonably attractive and reasonably tolerable and we give it our best shot. Cheers!”
You could question his timing, certainly, but can you question his stance on destiny? He said it authoritatively, as though he had pulled it from some indisputable treatise, that no one could question. And I could not tell for certain whether he said it with contempt or resignation. He did not seem to upset about it; in his mind, his experience, that is just the way it was.
So what do we do? Do we accept his position, going with the flow, because we cannot prove otherwise? Have we loved beyond the boundaries of coincidence? Been lucky beyond the bounds of chaos? Is destiny just naivete with an optimist fixation?
I have wondered, not infrequently, how to explain certain unexpected events in my life: hope, love, fear, loss, pain, expectation, disappointment. I have seen what could be explained away by randomness, but I refuse to be fooled by randomness. Not that anything more certain can be known, not for sure, but I prefer to believe in something higher and be wrong than believe in nothing and be right.
Everything has a purpose, even gymnastics. I am just trying to determine what that is.
Or not. As they say, in the abundance of water the fool is thirsty.