“These are pebbles from the mountain, hints of the terms by which our life is walled up, and which show a kind of mechanical exactness, as of a loom or a mill, in what we call casual or fortuitous events.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson -The Conduct Of Life

After the holidays have passed, it’s not uncommon for me and lots of other people to dip into a sort of self-reflection period with anticipation of the new year on the horizon. This year, of course, has been one of those that I’d like to cut and paste the good stuff and throw the rest in a fucking bonfire made with napalm. In all seriousness, I can look back over the thousands of photos that I’ve taken so far this year and just shake my head. My deep seated existentialism has ruined me again.

Not so much in a bad way, just a way that’s certainly unfamiliar. I’m kind of without a net lately and sometimes that’s pretty dangerous for those that push their luck as far as they possibly can. Never, however, do I intentionally see where the limits are, it’s just usually that I get wrapped up in the moment and my endless outpouring of personality gets me into trouble. The life of the party, the death of the relationship, the light of your life, the darkness at the end of the never ending tunnel. That’s me, all over the place but nowhere at once. This is of course a product of what old Ralphy called “fortuitous events”. My life is absolutely a walking landmine of these fortuitous events.

In layman terms a fortuitous event is an unforeseen event that happens by chance or accident from natural or man-made forces over which an affected person has no control. A fortuitous event can have either positive or negative consequences, you get the good, the bad and sometimes the very ugly. In other words, shit happens and you deal with it, but it’s all in how you deal with it that makes these events happen. For example, you’ve found yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire, you could call roadside assistance and have some total stranger come help you on the side of a dark street. You could always be straight and narrow, call AAA, and get a flatbed someplace safe.

Or you can be like me and see how far you can push your luck until the total bottom falls out. The pebbles that I’ve constructed the walls of my existence are in no way of any sort of rhyme or reason. I’ve carefully stacked each pebble of my being where I’d like it to be and am content with the decisions I make, sometimes…it’s when that asshole comes along and kicks your wall down that jacks your whole pebble metaphor. It’s not always your fault though, just like in the definition of fortuitous events, sometimes it’s man made, sometimes it’s just natural. In the tire story, yes, natural occurrence might have caused my tire to blow out while going down the interstate at a fast rate of speed but it could always be somebody sabotaging me and my poor little car for whatever reason.

People are assholes, sometimes, but you can’t forever walk with your head in the sand afraid that you’re going to encounter them. It’s the people that fix the assholes mistakes that help you to rebuild your toppled pebble wrong and help you reinforce it with a stronger stack pattern and perhaps even some back pinning. These are the people you keep, these are the people we all need. These are the people that help us to realize that life isn’t about what happens, it’s how you make it happen. If something happens, the rebuilding process is almost as important as the situation itself.

This is where the fortuitous events of chance are amazing. To make it sound less, oh I don’t know, Philosophical we’ll just call it fate (at least that’s what Ralph was talking about when writing this amazingly long and boring prose sprinkled with nuggets of insight). Fate, it’s a ugly word of just saying “shit happens.” Fate, although some feel there is a divinity in it, is pretty much just those events in life that make us stronger (or weaker) depending on how to tackle the situation. This is where, of course, your reaction time and action is very important. You can build up your walls just to let them be plowed and kicked down again by another person and call it fate or  you can consider it a learning tool. To sit idly by and watch yourself be kicked and blaming fate isn’t fare. Life isn’t fare, fate isn’t fare.

“Why should we fear to be crushed by savage elements, we who are made up of the same elements? Let us build to the Beautiful Necessity, which makes man brave in believing that he cannot shun a danger that is appointed, nor incur one that is not”

Bring on the danger, and stack your pebbles accordingly. Every once in a while you might even get the urge to pick up one of those damn things and hurl it at something, someone, or even no one. There isn’t really a tangible target to throw your troubles at, only the fear that resides in yourself of letting bad things happen. Bad things brought great people into myself, and although I don’t quite know what I’ve been cursed/blessed with such a bumpy existence lately, I’ll take it, I’ll keep on loving and caring and laughing. I’m afraid of no savage elements because I don’t believe in fate – I believe in fortuitous events (that might happen because of fate, but it’s not going to determine what happens).

As Dr. Thompson once said “There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment.”


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