I’ve always felt—and experience seems to bear this out—that I suffer from more bumps, trips, tangles and thumps than the average person. This is partially caused, no doubt, by my failure to acknowledge the power of the preventable moment. For those who haven’t read my previous blog on the subject, a preventable moment results from that split second when you could choose to avoid catastrophe, but don’t. For instance, if you choose to climb the stairs while balancing a stack of containers filled with tiny glass beads, anchored in place by your chin, trust me, nothing good will come of it.
Despite this knowledge, I continue to act without regard for the preventable moment and suffer the consequences. Yet I’ve witnessed others doing the same ill-advised things and emerging with their dignity and their beads intact. My conclusion has been that there must be a malevolent force in the universe that takes perverse delight in steering me into the path of chaos more often than it does others. But I had that thinking challenged recently while at lunch with a friend.
I began to tell her about my latest fiasco. As I did, I slid out of the booth to put on my jacket because it was chilly in the restaurant. As I pulled it back on, I continued my story. I noticed my friend’s eyes widen as I spoke, and I assumed she was identifying with my tale of woe.
But when I concluded and sat back down, she didn’t commiserate with me. She couldn’t because she was convulsed with laughter. Now, while my anecdote might have been mildly amusing in places, it didn’t rate high enough on the hilarity scale to account for that much laughing.
When she could speak again, she explained that as I stood in the aisle sweeping my jacket up and over my shoulders like a matador waving a cape, a waiter carrying a tray full of beverages had emerged from the kitchen behind me, and only missed being taken out by my coat because he made a smooth maneuver to my left. I remained oblivious. Another near miss occurred seconds later as I flung out my arm searching for the opening of my sleeve and a waitress narrowly averted dropping a tray of dirty dishes on my head. Again I was blissfully unaware that I’d been rescued from catastrophe.
That was when I had my epiphany. I often bemoan the mishaps that befall me as I navigate through the world with a whine of Why me? But there in the restaurant my friend witnessed me escape from almost certain disaster not once, but twice while I stood in total ignorance. So I wondered, what if I’ve had it backwards all these years?
What if only a fraction of the calamities that could beset me actually have? What if I’m actually rescued from disaster far more often than I suffer it, but I’m too obtuse to recognize my good fortune? Could it be that instead of a malicious energy propelling me into calamitous results, there may actually be a benevolent force steering me away from the worst effects of my ill-fated decisions?
I don’t know. But I like to think so.