Do you believe in fate?

There are many things I believe in: people, myself, karma, love, the Doctor, Zaphod Beeblebrox, the square root of pi – but if there’s one thing I don’t believe in, it’s fate. I believe that sometimes two people are “good for each other” or “should belong together” but I never believe that they are the only people ever meant for each other ever. I don’t believe that, for instance – one person should and always, despite every single thing they attempt to defy it – be destined to be a journalist. Or a bricklayer. Or a pornstar.

If we were destined to be something, how the hell would we know, for starters? Am I supposed to go out and randomly become a geologist and say, “this is the path that was chosen for me. No matter how hard I try to work in a bank, or even if I travel so far from nature and rocks and just go to the Sahara, something is going to act as a magnet and draw me back to some damn rocks”. A geologist was just what I wanted to be so much when I was a kid. If I break my leg in an accident, is that something that was always going to happen to me? How would I know? If I was in a car when it happened, was I somehow destined to get into that exact car at that exact time and sit in that exact spot and be travelling to that exact place?

Let me start with this. For example, I broke my leg. I would not have broken my leg had that car not hit me. That car would not have hit me had I not decided to speed through the yellow traffic light. I would not have sped through that light had I not been running late for work. I would not have been running late if I had not eaten breakfast late. I would not have been eating breakfast late if I didn’t wake up after my alarm. I wouldn’t have been late at all. And no, I don’t believe I was destined to wake up late on that very day at that very time so that a chain of events would result in me breaking my leg. If I was destined to break my leg at that time, anything, anything could have stopped me from doing so. A split second change of decision to run through a yellow light. A decision to skip breakfast. A decision to not go to work at all. And that is what I call chance.

Yesterday, I bumped into my ex-boyfriend, Kiah. Now, we weren’t destined to be together. I don’t believe that. If, six years ago, I kept going around thinking I was destined to be with him, I would be so damn miserable.

Whenever I see someone I know and I’m in public, just out on the street or at the shops or on the train, one of two things happens.

  • I approach them and say hello.
  • I halt half-step, nearly trip over, and realise there is nothing I can do other than walk past this someone and begin looking at something in a direction away from that person (and no, that’s not fate) and hope like hell as I grit my teeth and bite my lip that they don’t notice me because I am avoiding them completely.

I realise that the latter happens when it is a person I don’t know well, a person I dislike, or a person I seriously just “don’t want to fucking talk to right now”. Nothing is worse than encountering someone you are just going to be awkward around.

In this case, I did the former. I had to say hello. I mean, we’re still friends. I’ll be honest, I missed talking to him – even though seeing him busking in the subway and playing harmonica as he juggled hacky sacks and recalling the time in 2006 that I had been sorely dumped and chose to hang on by a thread in the hopes that our on-off relationship would no longer be off made me realise that I really felt pretty damn awesome and happy to be with James, someone so much more worthy of my affection, for ever so long now – so I stopped and we had a chat and caught up with whatever was going on in our precious little lives.

And it is encounters like these that make my day, because it isn’t one of those really horrid encounters in which you bump into a friend who betrayed you and two years later decides to apologise, but rather, one that you brought upon yourself, one that turned out not-so-bad.

I realised that had I not decided to linger with Johnny and Fern in the shop at 8:15 at night, had I not decided to walk with them from class, had I not decided to put my photo paper in my locker, had I not decided to stay back in class to review my work, had I not become frustrated over a photo I was printing… then maybe I wouldn’t have walked with Johnny to the station and realised that the busker he wanted to give the only bit of cash he had on him (two dollars) to – was actually my ex-boyfriend.

And I don’t think fate made me re-do a photo print four times. I don’t think fate made me end up walking with Johnny. I don’t think fate changed Johnny’s mind about spending his last $2 on betting. I don’t think fate made me bump into my ex-boyfriend, or even bring me to nearly four years with James.

No, I think that’s chance.

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