Last week I was driving and when I went to push on the break the pedal went all the way to the floor. The car wasn’t stopping. I thought I was dreaming because often I have a dream where this happens and in my dream I call the cops and they have to drive alongside me until we figure out a way to slow the car down, but it wasn’t a dream. My breaks weren’t working and I just kept driving hoping for the best. I somehow made it all the way home and down a giant hill in tuckahoe. My dad took the car down to the station later and the mechanic said the break line was completely severed that he had no idea how I got home and that I was incredibly lucky. When asked why the break line severed he said he had no idea. There was no explanation as to why this car with this few miles would have this freak thing happen to it.
My best friend just had open heart surgery. She’s 23 and she had a less than a 1% chance of getting this congenital heart problem. They’re not really sure why it happened it just did, one day something snapped in the tunnel of her heart and then they repaired it and it’s better now.
The breaks just went. My best friend the tunnel in her aorta just appeared. It just happened and no one knows why.
When we got back from South Africa, we went on these retreats with this Jesuit in training named David who was this really nice guy and super smart. He led us through lots of discussions and on one of the last ones he went on for a really long time about how “things don’t just happen” about nothing being chance. Another ex Jesuit in training named Raymond who led our retreats in SA said the same thing he said he hated the expression “luck” it’s not “lucky” he would said it’s fate.
One of my favorite poet’s Tony Hoagland has this amazing line in a poem of his “memory as a hearing aid” and in it he walks to the front of the room to give a lecture to a classroom and is reflecting on his life when he says:
"But here I stand, an average-looking man
staring at a room
where someone blond in braids
with a beautiful belief in answers
is still asking questions.”
A beautiful belief in answers is still asking questions.
It’s such a profound statement.
I tried for a while to believe things happen for a reason. To think that one day it’ll make sense and all will be reveled. I feel unlike David though lately anyway I feel that things just happen. I feel like most of the things that happen to us are based mainly on human choice and while the connections we make with one another are deep and real and up to us-I’m not so sure about the circumstances around them. I’ve lately found myself so confused in so many aspects of life and things going on around me that like the narrator of the poem I feel so removed from anyone still asking questions as if there were any answers. Of course I’m grateful my best friend is going to be ok, I’ve never been more grateful for anything in my life and of course I can see how people could look at it being fate that I made it back to my house ok. But was it? What if it hadn’t been? Then what?
What if there really aren’t any answers. Doesn’t that make us so much more responsible for our actions? Wouldn’t that make us more aware of the little we can control? What if things really do just happen? I’m not sure if that’s true and I definitely don’t think it’s comforting and I’m rooting for one day looking back and understanding why to so many unanswered disconnected unexplainable things have happened in my life, it seems like I can’t see that right now though