Have you ever run into somebody of special interest to you without any intent? Has life ever just worked out so perfectly, all the pieces fitting together seamlessly? I believe that these are moments of chance, a phenomenon that affects our lives even though we are often unaware of it.
I first began to think about chance several years ago when I was going to Disney World. At the Miami Airport, I happened upon neighbors with whom I had recently become acquainted. This family had given me minor medical attention and a ride home after I had crashed my bicycle in front of their house. I found myself reflecting on this event. It was extremely coincidental to see them in the airport in the first place, but if they had not moved to my neighborhood or if I had decided to watch TV rather than ride my bike, would I be stopping to talk to them? Or would they be other nameless people in the journey of life? I wanted these questions answered, so I began to search in myself for something that would appease my curiosity. Over the next few years, a belief in chance developed in my head defining aspects of life that are out of human control.
But it is easy to misinterpret what I mean by “out of human control”, because it is not easy to describe in a clear way. I do not suggest a higher power dictates our life, and I certainly don’t believe our lives are set on a one-way path of destiny. But there are things that affect you, whether you are conscious to them or not, that change your life.
Most people don’t recognize chance. Maybe human minds aren’t trained to look at what could have been, or maybe it is easier for humans to ignore what could have been and to focus on what is. Either way, moments of chance are all around us and they affect us considerably. For example, I was born in Richmond, Virginia. When I was three, my mom found a better job in Central New York. I had no control over where or when we moved, yet it has affected me in a plethora of ways. I remember nothing about Virginia – not my house, my daycare, my neighbors. All my life-long friends are in New York, along with the house I will look back on and say that I grew up in. Despite chance’s colossal effects, there is nothing you can do to change chance, because if it is something you can manipulate, it is not chance.
So, the next time you happen upon someone special or life just works out flawlessly, think about chance. Take a moment during the good times to recognize that things have just worked out. Take a moment during the bad times to recognize the things that could have made it worse, but didn’t. Think about chance and think about where it has gotten you today.
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