Often I ponder how many incredible ideas end up falling through the cracks over the years. With the state of the postal service and shipping industry both in overload crisis mode, it’s not just ideas getting lost in the mail. Of course, who really sends letters anymore? Rather, how many great ideas, including pitches for manuscripts that never get written that could be mind altering and life changing, are lost forever because they got caught in a waste-bin or spam filter? How many great writing careers are ended before they start? Who really gets lucky anymore when it all seems like random chance who gets to be a millionaire, whether in dollars or views on TikTok? The latter seems just as relevant as the former these days, though hardly relative.
Nowadays, I avoid fiction more than ever; while it has its place, I grow weary of plot holes and the presuppositions required to assume any sort of fictional world can actually exist. While fantasy certainly has its place and I’m not dismissing its utility, especially in my own life, truth is much more bizarre than any fiction even the most genius fictionist could concoct. The real is much more fascinating thanks to the correlations and true causes of the effects we like to colloquially know as the present day; these causes and their effects are much more measurable, relatable, and learnable in ways that in fiction is impossible. A single plot twist in fiction can break continuity for good; but, a plot twist in real life, if you dare to assume that our real lives even follow any sort of predestined narrative, doesn’t mean anything beyond what you conclude it to mean.
Our lives are full of often inexplicably cruel moments, such as coming into work finding the store shuttered up and your job no longer exists in an instant. For many folks, this spells complete and utter disaster. But, for all you know, losing that job, which probably wasn’t all that fabulous to begin with, could be the best thing that ever happens to you. The worst events can lead to the best effects, in ways that you couldn’t ever back up in fiction, no matter how hard a clever writer may try to do so.
There are so many what ifs that pervade every decision we make. The further from the decision we get, the more we tend to question it, imagining alternate realities that could have placed ourselves in even better conditions than we enjoy now. But these little daydream fantasies are quite dangerous, as they presuppose factors that we can’t begin to intuit without understanding that we must account for butterfly effects we rarely even recognize.
Many so called experts in their fields will say that the art of prediction is just that, an art. In science, experts rely on best guesses and educated opinions, backed up by dozens of citations and hundreds of pages of proofs, facts, and figures. Yet there is a huge movement among the disciples of Big Data who believe machine learning can predict anything. Of course, machine learning all begins with an algorithm, and while the machine can adjust over time and evolve as datasets improve, whatever presuppositions were built into that initial seed algorithm are going to eventually prove flawed in some way that misses out on perhaps the greatest key event in history in that given field, because who could have seen it coming?
Then, you have those who become labeled seers, or even witches or wizards, who seem to predict events that they couldn’t possibly have logically foreseen with uncanny precision. Is it truly supernatural? Or do some minds simply function on levels that your average Joe or Jane couldn’t begin to fathom? We all think about possibilities in our world on a regular basis that could be groundbreaking. Yet, hardly any of us realize what we are thinking up at the moment these lightning strikes of inspired genius electrify us. Most of us never give these clever moments a second thought, and it’s a damn shame.
Many of us spend far too much energy on things we can’t control. What we should be doing is using our moments of indecision as meditation periods to figure out what we do have control over. Most people who are faced with sudden job loss, for example, don’t react rationally. They lash out, demanding an explanation. While it’s not wrong to want an answer, it’s best to simply walk away and find another road to take. Many people simply fume about unfair things. You have to immediately ask yourself, and you can only do this by mindfully retraining yourself as I have had to do, is this something I can control? Sometimes it is. When it’s not, find what you can. What was hidden before that is now revealed?
Many times we are too close to current events to realize the lessons we should be learning. This is why hindsight is so clear, because we lose sight of the context in which certain events occurred. Even if you were to predict 99 percent of events spot on, it’s likely that the 1 percent you miss on end up being the most important. While having powers of prediction can seem awe inspiring, sometimes these predictions are based solely on life experience and learning how to read people better than they can read themselves. I’ve watched far too many people falling through the cracks that get second chances all the time that they pass up simply because they couldn’t see the road ahead for what it was, another journey just waiting to happen.
Sure, you will get a flat tire every so often; something will break down without warning and you find yourself stranded. But, these are meant to be pushpins on the map of your life’s itinerary, and the more we try and plan things to go right, the less they ultimately will. It’s much better to look at life as an impromptu road trip. You departed on this trip as soon as you were born into this strange, wonderful, and often troubling world, and it’s time for your story to unfold. Come what may, you just have to live it as best as you can. You are the main character, and you must choose your own adventure.