I read something recently that got me thinking more about the chance events that occur in our lives. It was one of those “new-agey” reads I so enjoy. Modern-day spiritual philosophy is what it is at its core and I enjoy it. I love the idea of spirituality and all things related to filling that all too empty slice of our life wheel.
I wrote in my “Why in The Sky” article that we’re threads in a great cosmic tapestry. We intersect thousands of other threads along our journey and thousands more intersect with us for reasons and purposes we may never know. The concept of it is pretty crazy which is why I think a lot of scientist-type folks call it random chance. To better illustrate what I’m talking about, try looking at the world through a different lens.
Let’s start with the lottery. It’s easy. Everybody knows what it is, and many have purchased a ticket at some point in their lives. In Ohio, there are a dozen different games with different odds, all of them fairly astronomical. Games like the Rolling Cash 5 ask you to choose five numbers from 1-39. The winner gets 100k and the jackpot rolls up with each drawing that doesn’t produce a winner. Odds of hitting the jackpot are one in 575,757. The Classic Lotto is a multi-million dollar jackpot that has you choose six numbers ranging from 1-49. Odds of hitting that jackpot are one in 13,983,816. So I’d have to spend 57k on tickets for a 10% chance to win 100K. After taxes, I’d be left with a profit of about 14k.
Imagine it, a big wheel with 10 equal slices like a pie. Think of the Wheel of Fortune wheel. You spin that wheel and hope it lands on your one slice. You have nine chances it won’t and even gamblers would tell you that you’re probably better off taking that 57k and putting it on either red or black on the roulette table. You can double your money and it’s close to the flip of a coin.
In spite of these odds, we still hear about people winning the lottery every day. It happens to real folks and even when the odds seem so unfathomable, people still win. Why? What’s more are all of the variables that led that person to purchase the ticket at the time and location they did. What if they’d missed that red light on their way and shown up three minutes earlier? What if they didn’t get hung up on that call or stop to chat with their neighbor prior to getting in the car? Did they buy one ticket or fifty? What about the guy who spent $100 a week for a year to increase his odds and got nothing while the little old lady who had just purchased one ticket on whim hit the jackpot.
I believe it happens that way because that lady was meant to win at that point in her life. The money would affect other people’s lives in only the way it could have by her winning and spending it or saving it. What if she made a multi-million dollar deposit into a small credit union that was on the brink of closing? What if she spent it foolishly but helped a local economy in the process?
The lottery is an easy thing to quantify on paper, but I believe that if you’re meant to win, you’ll win no matter the circumstance, how much you spend, or what day of the week you purchase your ticket. Forces inside you compel you with the desire to purchase the ticket in the first place. Many people don’t play the lottery. Similar forces compel them not to.
What about the other threads (interactions) we have throughout our lives? Did you ever think that you were meant to cross paths with someone for a reason? I believe we’re meant to cross paths with everyone we meet.
I work in downtown Cleveland and walk by a hundred or more strangers each day. I think about all the people I don’t know and those I haven’t met. I wonder about their journeys and I think about the people I have met and why I’ve met them. I think about it now more so than I have in the past. I wonder if I’m helping them along their journey or if they’re helping me along mine. I look at the people who’ve been in my life a long time and those who’ve spent some time with me only to flutter off after some shorter duration.
I dated a girl who liked me. I liked her as well. I knew, however, that I wasn’t ready for a relationship. Was her role in my life to inspire me to that realization? Was it my role in her life to act as a catalyst for her to move on and regain lost confidence? Was it simply to share a conversation that inspired a story idea that will one day become a best seller? Or was it because we were exactly what we each needed at that time in our lives?
I wonder if long relationships, especially dysfunctional ones, are just universal reminders that we’ve received what we needed and need to move on, but we resist our intuition. We know what’s best for us and who we want and need to be with and why. Our humanity, baggage, and desire all too often force us to stay or fight for something we know we shouldn’t.
I’ve learned that we are going to learn our lessons, meet who we need to meet, give what we give, get what we get, and progress along our thread whether we like it or not. We’re going to keep making the same mistakes until we learn our lessons. We’re going to keep getting prodded to realize our potential until it happens.
Now, at least for me, is being able to wonder and hopefully recognize why I’m meeting someone. I can open my ears to what people are telling me I should be doing. I can stop resisting, regretting, and wondering “what if?” I can buy a lottery ticket and know that if I’m meant to win, I will.
I hope when we die we get to see the tapestry; all the threads of our lives compiled to produce a completed image. I wonder how mine will look.
It’s crazy to try and comprehend. Better I think to trust and believe than attempt to rationalize.