What if what is, wasn’t?

“How can the world in all its chaos come up with so many coincidences, so many similarities and exact opposites?” – Amy Tan

9780822349884_p0_v1_s260x420I often find it scintillating to sit around and ponder how things would be if certain events in my life had just played out in a way that allowed for completely different outcomes. The fact that you are even sitting here reading my blog is nothing more than a mere coincidence determined by a series of random occurrences. One different happening could have taken you somewhere else, which in that case, you probably would not be reading this blog right now. If someone who you never knew turned right in the supermarket today instead of left and knocked something out of your hand, your day could have been dramatically different. The precious seconds wasted that would have otherwise sent you on your way are now being spent on picking up your dropped groceries and having quick, awkward small talk with a stranger who you would have never talked to if it were not for him or her running into you. Now you are running late, and the car ride home that would have otherwise been routine turns into a nightmare. You pull out of your parking spot and jerk forward as your car is slammed from behind by a teenage boy who now is wishing he did not decide to change the song on his iPod while driving.  If you had not been held up in the store, this may have been someone else’s problem, or maybe it would not have happened at all.

But this isn’t how it played out. That customer in the supermarket turned in the opposite direction. You left the supermarket a few seconds earlier and avoided the momentarily distracted teen driver who in turn did not find himself rear ending your car.

One infinitesimal event can trigger a chain reaction that spreads out like a ripple on a placid lake after a large rock is thrown in. It is within these small events that all of humanity has been created. As individual people make their own decisions, they add a distinguishable ripple into the lake of humanity that will then mingle and combine with other waves in this turbulent lake. This idea of fate has guided life since the beginning of time and has somehow lead us all to our current situation or place in the world. Civilization is built on chance occurrences, and human interaction will forever be guided by chance. Chance is like a blind tour guide attempting to lead us on a tour into the future; it has no idea where it’s going, all it knows is it is going somewhere.

It is absolutely mind-blowing to ponder the very nature of our own existence. The fact that somehow, out of all this randomness that we have all somehow been born into this world. It has taken years of chance, and maybe even luck, for us to be alive and breathing today. If one person in your family tree had made one different decision, it is completely safe to say that the likelihood of you being here on this Earth today would be highly unlikely.

Hey, but I guess we all lucked out, right? Our first ancestors made the right decision when they got together and had children, and then this string of good decisions lasted until, finally, we were born. This is great for us, but maybe it is not great for another person that is not alive, but very easily could have been if our ancestors had played their cards differently. If fate wanted it to be so, someone else could have been born instead of yourself, and the very thought of who you are and what you could have become would be unknown and unthought of because your existence had not been made possible by the favors of chance

Alright, I will stop with that now, I’m even starting to confuse myself a little, I think. Wait, I think therefore I am. Okay, this is good, at least I’m still alive.

Since we all made it into existence, we do not have to think about the what-ifs. I want to focus now on the positions that we currently finding ourselves in. I often find myself thinking how absurdly random it is that we have been able to meet the people who we have in our lives. Somehow, fate has allowed the stars to lineup in such a way that has brought me together with the friends and family that I have been so fortunate to have been blessed with. To all my new college friends, what would have happened if we had been put in different residence halls? The fact that our entire class of 2016 is what it is, has occurred in a way that probability could never be able to fully understand or even begin to explain.

What I’m trying to prove from all of this philosophical mumbo-jumbo is just how lucky we are to be where we are today. The ways of the universe could have been much more unkind to us than it has been. Fate has let it happen that we are here today with people who have chosen paths similar to the one that we are on. The mass compilation of trivial actions over the millennia has brought us all together. Each action has been important in getting us here, and each future action will be just as important as well. Every action we make is important in guiding not just ourselves, but the future generations, too.

For some bizarre reason, we are all here together, and it is certainly by chance, but this is how it is and it intends to stay. The universe dealt us its’ cards and this is where we all stand, and in my heart, I would like to believe that chance has had some logic in doing this, but then gain, maybe it doesn’t. Forest Gump said it perfectly, “I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze. But I, I think maybe it’s both, maybe both happening at the same time.”

P.S.- I bet most of you just read that in the Forest Gump voice.

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Breakup, Breakdown and Breakthrough – Love is Still Alive

UnknownMaybe, at least in our hearts, we are all hopeless romantics – or maybe it’s just me – but I’m really okay with that when I really think about it. It could be that I’m overly optimistic, or maybe it’s just because I believe in fate and the basic principle that everybody was put on this Earth to make a difference in somebody else’s life. I’m not saying that I’m certain, but I’m telling you what I believe. It’s not like undying optimism has ever killed anyone, well maybe that’s not true, but I bet an optimist dies with a much better outlook than a pessimist. It seems to be everywhere though, this idea of love. I see it in people’s eyes, the way they look, the way they talk and maybe how they walk. Someone who is in love – or who thinks they’re in love – they act differently, they think differently, they’re different than somebody who has never felt that way. We may fall in and out of love, or maybe not, maybe it’s just that we forget what we love about someone else and have the once soft and compassionate emotions become destroyed by bitter dislike and unbridled disdain that seems to seep from our pores, but love still does not fade, it is only forgotten, like a dusty high school yearbook left in the attic until it is discovered years later by a curious child.

As I sat waiting for my train back home from school to see the one’s who I love most, I saw the many different faces that love is casually disguised as. I saw teen love. I saw the look in a woman’s eyes as she smiled broadly while talking on the phone to someone that she certainly loved in someway. Her hazel eyes radiating this sense of hope and cheerful bliss that stuck in my memory like honey on a young child’s fingers. She had a sense of purpose, a sense of rightness, she had something to come home to. Although the world could have been crumbling down on her at this very moment, this short amount of the time on the phone with a lover graced her with a momentary reprieve from everything else. She began to take on the look of a love struck teenager. Her free hand made her way up to her hair and, shortly thereafter, she began to twirl her hair around her finger – winding gently, and then releasing her hold in a way that allowed her hair to carelessly fall across the smile painted on her face. 333056_2115962157024_4165009_o

And then I saw the most beautiful kind of love there is. The love that has had the time to ferment. Love aged like a fine wine. Love that has been tested, beaten and battered over the course of decades but has still had the power, dare I say the courage, to persevere. This is the love that is not based on uncontrolled lust, but rather mutual understanding and respect for one another. Quiet, unspoken affection that was bred in earlier days that are now at the heart of thoughtful nostalgic reminiscing. It is casual love. More like that of best friends rather than actual lovers, but in their quiet casual talk, the way that their eyes patiently and passionately rest upon each other, I could feel the love. With each word, with each moment of eye contact, they still see the eyes of a lover who is still there despite the fact that time has weathered away their once strong, young features. It is in these people that I have made the discovery that love exists. Not just love, but true love. It is not just a Disney love story, but a non-fiction story better than any love story manufactured by a commercial entity that is aimed on promoting a fake ideology of what love should be.

Love could be anything. And sometimes it hurts. And sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes love needs work. And sometimes it is beyond repair. But for what it is worth, most of the time love is elegant; a perfectly tailored suit, a beautiful ballroom gown. It is tasteful and it is emblazoned with joyfulness.

But when it isn’t, it is hard. As college students, high school students, young adults and even for a larger majority of adults, breakups occur, and they are never easy. Circumstances change the once flower filled fields of love and replace them with a field of weeds. The warm embraces that at one time you never wanted to release grow cold and hurried. Things change and so do people, and as a result, love r

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uns cold.

It is never easy to say goodbye to love that was once so heated and filled with the benefits that love has to offer, but after the early feelings of withdrawal are forgotten, it is easy to adapt to life again without the person who once held such an important part of your heart. Before you know it, your will heart will be awoken by the early fiery passion of new love. When you say goodbye to an older lover, you open up your heart to the love that you were destined to hold there. Old loves tell us what we need in a relationship and they also tell us what we do not need. It leaves us with scars, but then again, smooth seas have never made skilled sailors. I’m still young, and I know very little about the true inner workings of love, but I do know one thing: it is living.

It breathes through our eyes, talks through our souls and bleeds from our hearts. It passes like the scenery outside the window of a moving train. Each love leaves snapshots in our minds of memories that we will never forget and memories that we wish would just vanish into the depth of our thoughts. Love is cruel, but it also is kind. It is tolerant, but is also selfish. It makes us find in us the best things about ourselves, but also makes us discover our own worst features. Love is the perfect embodiment of what it means to truly be living; to live for someone or something other than yourself.

It’s Basically Life and Death

Image“Only when you accept that one day you’ll die can you let go, and make the best out of life. And that’s the big secret. That’s the miracle.” – Gabriel Ba

From my short stint of time on this Earth, I have learned two definitive things: life is valuable, and death is greedy. Death constantly attempts to steal the preciousness of life, and often is very successful in its’ endeavors. Death is a resilient and hardened criminal; a trained thief. It has no understanding of the preciousness of life and the sentimentality that each life is worth to others. A life is not just the energy that fills a vessel, but it is also a father, a mother, a sister and a brother. It is that neighbor who you have known your entire life or that cute girl who you see around from time to time. It is that majestically crafted animal that you have come to love as your own. It is the trees, the grass, the plants and the vegetables. It is the air above us and the soil beneath us. It is everywhere.

But wherever there is life, you can guarantee there is death. This Earth has given us the opportunity for life, and at the same time, it has cursed us with the terror of death. We fight death, we allude death and we often fear death. Death is the universal equalizer, making it certain that even the strongest are capable of succumbing to it. Death is the unknown; taking us from what we are certain of, to something that science will never be able to explain and that religion can only claim to have an understanding of.

Death is always around us. It lurks in the shadows, patiently waiting for misfortune. Death preys on fate and gambles on chance. And sometimes death decides to look us straight in the eyes, and even though we fight and battle it, battles are still lost. Death understands that there needs to be balance although we wish that those we love could live forever. So even though we may use all the strength that we have to battle death, sometimes death comes out on top, claiming its’ bitter victory in the battle with life.

I’ve seen death before, I’ve felt its’ aftermath and I have feared its’ presence. I have seen young friends lost and I have seen fathers and mothers perish and leave this flawed Earth early to get a head start on making their way to the polished gates of heaven, where they happily embrace those who perished before them, and patiently await the arrival of the ones they left behind. I have watched children and old men battle with cancer. I have cheered in the moments of victory, and wept in the sourness of defeat.

Through it all, I have realized that who you are does not concern death; if death wants you, it can very easily take you, and it can take you at any age. Each day we walk on a tightrope between life and death. We need to understand that life is continually depleting; a gas tank heading toward empty with no gas station in sight. We find ourselves wasting away our time as we are enveloped in our petty disputes, our unimportant arguments and our unsubstantial problems. During all our minor inconveniences, our life is slowly dwindling away as if we are all candles with a flame burning away at our limited wick of life.

Even though death may tightly wrap its’ greedy, skinny and cold fingers around the lives of those who we hold so closely to ourselves, death has no way of grasping the memories of those lost that are held within the cozy embrace of our hearts. The smiles are never forgotten. The memories captured like a still frame in our mind do not disappear. Nor do the moments relived within our thoughts like grainy, discolored homemade movies. Death takes life, but it doesn’t take the precious moments that life generously and graciously sprinkles upon us.

So say goodbye to those we’ve lost. The ones who left early, and the ones who were able to grow gray. Be prepared for the lives that death will ultimately pluck from the fabric of mortal life. Let these lives live on though through fond memories of good times, never-ending laughter and warm embraces. Death wins sometimes, but life will battle, and ultimately, life prevails.

RIP to all those lost and good luck to all those who are battling.

“Death truly does have life, and walks with and lives through us everyday.” – Nicholas A. McGirr

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