Often enough we’ve all thought, What If … and imagine that had we made a slightly different choice at some time or other in our lives, a significant turning point never would have existed. Or, the choice that we did make created that significant event. Any moment may lead to great happiness or great sadness, or to a mediocre middle-of-the-road wallpaper paste kind of event that no one remembers at all.
There are plenty of stories about the freaky way a person may have met their spouse, or the chance unexpected event that led to a successful career, or the deal of a lifetime that popped up out of a bizarre coincidence, or even the casual suggestion by a friend that the last number on the Mega-Whopper-Fantabulous-Whoop-de-Doo Lottery ticket ought to be 46. And it is. Or, it isn’t.
When I’ve had to search for car keys I’ve occasionally thought that this minor incident could have life-changing consequences. I could have an accident because of the delay, or I might be avoiding an accident that I’ll never know about. These considerations contribute to a general creepiness about the fragile hold we have on our own lives.
I wouldn’t have met my wife, Alayna, on the night before Halloween, had I not been entering a tavern just as she and a woman friend were leaving, and it so happened that her friend worked at one of my clients. And, it so happened that I expressed my frustration over not being able to find a pumpkin to carve by declaring that I was going to carve an eggplant instead. I went on into the tavern and the two women went their way. Alayna didn’t seem to be interested in me at all.
We probably would have never seen each other again, EXCEPT, she was intrigued by the wacky guy who intended to carve an eggplant. BUT when I said “eggplant” I meant to say “acorn squash.” Would she have been interested in a guy who meant to substitute one Cucurbita species for another, rather than an uncarvable Solanum for a Cucurbita?* We’ll never know for sure, but we do know that small events can have huge consequences.
We fell in love and that was 30 years ago.
There is a lot more to say about these remarkable coincidences and I want to take a look from another angle another time.
*I’m not as clever about the taxonomy of the species as you might think. I owe a considerable share of my mind in general to Wikipedia, as if you couldn’t have guessed.