Saturday, September 23, 2006


fate, time, rambling, etc.

Months ago I was sitting at the dining room table having dinner with Anon. We were eating Bertucci's pizza, just enjoying each other's company before we went on to do our own thing(s).

In a fanciful mood, we were talking about the past, and all of the different decisions that we had made that had brought us up to that moment, eating pizza with a neighbor in the fading sunlight of a Friday evening. I said that if I hadn't worked on the paper, I probably would have gone abroad. And if I had gone abroad, I'd be fluent in French right now, and possibly living in France. And imagine that - if one little thing had been different, the path of my life would have adjusted by degrees, and I wouldn't have been having dinner with him.

And he reflected on the choices that had brought him there. And it made me think - what if, no matter what the choices we had made, we were meant to be having dinner with each other that day? If the people that are in our lives, they are meant to be there at that moment, regardless of the time or place. I told him my little "We could have been eating pizza in Paris" theory, and I'm pretty sure he thought that I was delusional.

Today my bro and I checked out Georgetown. I pretty much fell in love and experienced college envy, which is a tad ridiculous. I began to think...if I had gone to Georgetown (changing my past so that I had applied, been accepted, etc.), would my life be different? Or would I still be working where I work, living where I live?

And if I had gone abroad - maybe I would still have the same job. TK took the study abroad route at Catholic, and we work together. You really never know.

All of this isn't to look back on things with regret, and with what-ifs, but just to explore different avenues. The Unbearable Lightness Being talked about coincidences, and how a series of them had brought two people together. Maybe those coicidences are secondary to the cause. And tonight on Lost, they said "Don't confuse coincidence for fate." Maybe those coincidences don't matter at all.

One of my favorite books is Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman. Each chapter relates a different way time might operate, and is relayed in usually-gripping stories. Sometimes I picture time as a constant thing - that each action is replayed over and over in some dimension, leaving tracks. For example, after we moved, I began to walk to work from the metro by a different street, but my new and old routes eventually join a couple of blocks from the front door.

My timing is still exactly the same, and occasionally I fancy that I run into my past self, walking the same track at the same time. If I looked quick, and in the right way, would I catch a glimpse of last year's me turning the corner? When we move through the world, do we leave pieces of us behind?

Today Bub and I visited CUA. He jokingly suggested that I pop by my old dorm, and knock on the door. Laughing, he said that I might run into the 2004 version of me and my roommates. Ludicrous, yes. But what if I had knocked on the door, and no one answered? Would I remember a time from senior year when I was in the apartment, doing the dishes (or more likely catching up on Laura's "Us Weekly"), thinking that I hear a knock, and then thinking that I had been mistaken, thereby not answering the door?

There's a short story by Jorge Luis Borges called The Garden of Forking Paths.

It winds down with this quote:

"He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time."

Meg, I love this post...the way I see it, you're always running into your "old" self, since who you are today is an evolution of who you were yesterday, and although you will never physically see yourself walking down that old path- you do see it in your mind- and that my friend is living the past today. It sounds so romantic to wonder about how little details can change your life etc..and to wonder about coincidence and fate- but the way I see it- is you make your fate- yes it's half chance- but it's also YOU who chooses to walk down certain paths, and those paths make you who you are today- were yesterday- will be tomorrow- so yes time can be considered as a constance- as you are an accumulation of time past- but it is also the future- the unknown and it's up to you to use it wisely... my dad alwys told me- time is the most precious commodity you have- never waste it!
This was a great post. :) Really made me think and I have to say...

I kinda want to believe that fate is the reason I am exactly where I am, doing exactly what I am. I'll take it.
Einstein's Dreams! Great book.

I'm one of those lame sorts who believes that everything happens for a reason. The people you meet, the places you live...these are the people and places that have been made for you...the same way that you have been made for them.

It can't be a coincidence that I got passed over for what seemed like my dream college (Columbia) and later, my dream job (the NEA)...and that I ended up going where I went, meeting Pat, staying at work where I was, and really getting to know you better. :)

I mean, sometimes I wish I were making more money...or that I were living a more stereotypically "writerly" life in the big city...but then I probably wouldn't be getting married to a nice man, and I probably wouldn't be doing Nanowrimo with a good friend.

By the way, I'm planning on picking up a Starbucks habit again, because I hear that they usually have outlets for laptops (the battery on mine is totally dead), and that they don't really kick you out unless you set things on fire. Actually I read that in the book I was telling you about. :) I love peppermint hot chocolate...and I think they'll make me vanilla steamers... :)
Meg, you have no idea how often I go around thinking, "what if I had..."! I keep wondering, what if I hadn't bombed that first physics test in college? Maybe I would be a physicist now. Maybe I would have flopped a year later and would have picked something other than geology... maybe I would have never went to Utah, never went to Stanford, never moved to Cali...

Or maybe, I would have ended up exactly where I'm at now. The thing is, I'll never know, and you'll never know. And, if you go through life with regrets, then you're not living your life the way you should...

So, I guess what I'm saying is raise your glass and give yourself a Cheers for all that you've done in life and where it's taken you...
What a fascinating conversation who had with neighbor. I would have loved to be in on something like that.


I didn't like Geogretown - not that I could have gotten in. I'd recommend a less expensive school than Geogretown or CUA, because it's just undergrad and they're all the same really. You guys are lucky to come from Massachusetts. If he's smart enough to get into G-Town then let him go to Dartmouth or Amherst and save some money for the folks.

Anyways Meg enough negativity from me, taking the brother to look at colleges sounds like great fun - I'm jealous. I love small schools, like Catholic, even if I am going to a huge one and suggested large ones for your brother. And great post, a joy to read.
mona: that's a very good acknowledge the romantic, but don't forget to live in the present. One of my teachers used to always say "Nostalgia is history without context."

tc: I like it!

mel: I can't wait to sit with you on fall evenings and type furiously, whilst sipping some sort of drink, and hopefully chewing on some tasty snack. It's going to be unforgettable.

cam: I totally agree. I love to think of making all these different choices, and still ending up in the same spot. Not in this "I have no control" way, but to think of it in a romantic sort of way, as Mona described.

rem: people love random stuff - so don't be afraid to speak what's on your mind next time there's a lull between bites of pizza. And advice noted, thank you!
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