A line from "The Big Lebowski" or a phrase uttered by major league pitcher, Preacher Roe; both are correct. The phrase captures the imponderable randomness of life and luck or the lack there of.
I was involved in a horrible car accident where the driver of the other car died. He came across the road at just the right time to hit us head on. If he had been traveling two tenths of a mile an hour slower maybe he would have hit the back of our car or if he were traveling a mile an hour slower or we were traveling faster, he might have missed us completely. Is this the infinite serendipity of the cosmos in play or a statistical likelihood that everyone that drives or rides in a car encounters?
Recently, Major league pitcher, Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game - no hits, no walks and no errors. Braden is only the 19th pitcher since 1880, to pitch a perfect game. Braden's career record of 18 wins and 23 losses makes the achievement even more remarkable. Was it luck or simply random perfection that sometimes expresses itself so magnificently, albeit on rare occasions?
General George Custer of Little Big Horn fame, was fond of saying he had a destiny that could not be denied. He led charges during the Civil War that caused him to have at least 11 horses shot out from under him with only one unremarkable injury. During the French and Indian War, George Washington, later President Washington, had two horses shot from under him and on four different occasions, bullets passed through his clothes without injuring him. Was divine providence somehow preserving Washington for a greater fate?
Maybe Forest Gump was more profound than I have credited him with being. Forest's familiar refrain "For no particular reason" or "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get," speaks to the capricious and unpredictable nature of life. I would speculate that a critical difference in the great men that I have mentioned and many of the rest of us is that they must have abandoned their fears to their fate.
Many of us have more regret about things we didn't do than the things we did do; perhaps we were either too insecure or could not endure the perceived embarrassment, should we fail.
In my life I have known a few people of faith and they seem to be most at ease with what life has in store for them. I admire them for their courage and their resilience. Maybe the meaning of not being eaten by the bear today is really appreciating the gift each day is - another day to love your children, hug your life partner, enjoy your friends, appreciate nature and to do something good for someone else. Remember, all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com