I’ve never believed in fate. It’s implausible to me that God has a plan for each of us and as such, we are destined to go through life as automatons of His will. Where’s the fun in that? If you were God, wouldn’t it be more interesting (and certainly funnier) if you just plopped down a bunch of souls on the Earth, wound them up and watched them go? No, predestination never made sense to me; I’m more a student of chaos theory.
That said, I am disinclined to believe that our lives are just a cosmic mistake and that we’re destined for nothing greater than food for worms. My personal philosophy centers around speculation that we’re all inter-related at a microcosmic level. Quantum physics. Perhaps String Theory. I’m not quite sure how it works or the extent to which we can quantify it, but just like big-D “Destiny” doesn’t make sense to me, neither does ignoring the prospect that, at a molecular or subatomic level, there’s got to be some kind of something going on.
Call it what you will (my aunt likes to refer to it as Abundance): if you pay attention to the signs there’s evidence of its existence. Having a bad day? Spend the morning with a crabby countenance and watch how things will continue to snowball downhill until your head hits the pillow that night. Conversely, perform one small act of kindness and watch good come back to you tenfold. Because the ebb and flow of abundance is imperceptible, it’s often hard to remember it exists in the first place. Most of the time it’s as inaudible as the flight of a bumblebee, but sometimes it’s as loud as Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras Tuesday.
The latter, I will call Gut. Or Guidance. In a nutshell, it’s when Abundance tells you what to do.
People don’t Listen to their gut enough in this society. I surely didn’t. I’m a math person, practical, an INTJ. I can always reason my way through a decision. Sometimes, though, too much reason can fuck you. It certainly did to me when I moved back to New York in 2004. In my frenzy to land a job as quickly as possible, I ignored my Dangerometer. I should have known before I even showed up for the interview that accepting a position working for Piranhahead would be a recipe for disaster. What about my boss’ brusque and suspicious demeanor – which I sensed during a telephone interview 3,000 miles across the country – made me think that working for her would be a trip to Disney World? I should have shelved the rationalization and gone with my Gut, the same Gut that was pleading with me not to take that job.
People won’t listen to their Gut, but they’ll follow the commands of a disembodied British person telling them how to drive to the nearest Olive Garden. I recently read an article in which a doctor imagines a world where humans have their own Gps System. “‘Take the job in New York.’ ‘Get the biopsy.’” Like, if we could magically turn on an Internal Garmin we would know how best to live our lives. For me, the question is not whether we have a GPS; it’s whether or not we choose to listen to it.
In the latest issue of InStyle, Michelle Pfeiffer makes a seemingly off-the-cuff comment about her lack of direction. “I Finally Learned how to use the GPS in my car, and it changed my life. It took me so long because I have trust issues. I just didn’t trust that it wouldn’t get me lost. But I realized that nothing could get me more lost than me.” She’s speaking literally, of course, but I interpret her confession metaphorically: she’s finally learned to listen to her Internal Gps.
I finally learned to listen to my internal GPS in late October 2007.
Some of my more tenured readers may remember that for about two years Gawker had a feature they called Blogorrhea, where they would link to posts from New York-based blogs. They featured my blog about a dozen times, and each time netted me a stable of steady readers. I also got a lot of free stuff: a bottle of wine, tickets to a musical, a shitload of Aveda product. I also got an email from the man who would later become my fiancé.
It was succinct, yet provocative. He had read my blog for a while and wanted to meet me in the flesh. Everything he related about himself was infallibly above board: his name, where he lived, where he worked. Whether or not I wanted to meet him in the flesh was entirely up to me. After ruling out that the writer could be a crazy sick lunatic commencing a career in serial killing, I gave it three seconds of thought before saying out loud to nobody: “Oh, who the fuck is this?”
And then a funny thing happened: my internal GPS turned itself up to 10 on the volume dial and screamed at me “DO NOT DELETE THAT EMAIL.” It was almost as if someone else was in the room with me – a life coach, Big Yellow Hair or my mom or someone – shaking me and yelling at me to just “PUT THE EMAIL ASIDE FOR NOW AND JUST THINK ABOUT GOING OUT WITH HIM, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY. YOU CANNOT CONTINUE TO BELLYACHE ABOUT NOT MEETING QUALITY MEN IN NEW YORK AND THEN JUST DISMISS THIS GUY OUT OF HAND. HE COULD BE THE ONE, FOR CHRISSAKES!” Of course, I really didn’t believe he was the one, but the possibility was there, the very remote possibility.
It was my Human Gps that’s what made me proverbially sleep on it for a day and then reply to the email that yes, I would love to meet a reader for drinks. Really, what did I have to lose? An hour and a half of my life? That’s not so bad. After all, the dude would pay for drinks. Well, now that I’m sitting here typing with a very pretty engagement ring in the shape of a daisy adorning my ring finger, you can guess what transpired on that first date. The details stay with me, but I will say that when I was walking back to the subway that night I caught my reflection smiling back at me as I passed by a store window. And I never smile after a first date.
After reading those two disparate articles mentioning GPS systems I was reminded of that October day I spent sitting on the big chair considering replying to the nice man’s email with a “thanks but no thanks,” but instead getting stopped by a voice or a force bigger than myself. If I hadn’t pulled my head out of my ass and obeyed Abundance, I’d probably still be spending weekends alone doing whatever I did, which wasn’t very important, fun or particularly memorable.
Sometimes I think about what a near miss life can be, usually in the context of the latest catastrophe: the people who were home sick the day the Twin Towers came down, the lucky ones who missed their connecting flight from Brazil to Paris. These are the happy examples, the people who escaped disaster unscathed. Less painful but far more tragic is the missed opportunity. The thought of not having Blue Eyes in my life because of my own short-sightedness is absolutely heartbreaking to me. Of course, if things had transpired that way I probably wouldn’t be cognizant of the heartbreak, I’d just wonder from time to time: what if…
But I can’t get too hung up on these morbid thoughts. Thanks to my internal GPS, I said yes to the date in October 2007, and yes to the proposal in January 2009. Now all that’s left is the happily ever after.