“What do you think the third disaster will be?”
I love the saying, the elephant in the room…. That big something that everyone is thinking but no one is saying. And, while my quote is listed as an overhear, in actuality it was never said out loud. Still…. The thought was so
present it practically echoed around the room. After two pieces of very bad luck on the journey, we all were wondering what would happen next to our friends.
Luck, like fate, is a very difficult concept for me. On the one hand, I think it is lovely to imagine that someone is actually managing the mayhem that I sometimes feel in my life. On the other hand, I dread the idea that someone has the ability to choose the bad and good things that happen to me and the ones I love. I realize I can’t have it both ways, so mostly I try not to think about it.
Until something bad happens…. Or, more relevantly, two bad things happen. Because then it is impossible not to contemplate the idea that bad things happen in threes.
There have been times in my life when I have, by necessity, had to question this idea of control. It reaches into the very depths of my psyche and even my relationship with God. If I believe in free will, which I do, then how do I find purpose and meaning in the good and bad things that happen to me.
It is far easier to say, when something bad happens, it was God’s will; or to imagine that by the bad occurrence something even worse was avoided. There was a great TV show five or so years ago that was based on this idea. Joan of Archadia, followed the multiple quests or assignments asked of her by God (in the vise of regular people she would bump into in her daily life). I loved what she learned in the process of doing her tasks. But even more, I liked that idea that God had everything under control, even if it was a control we didn’t necessarily understand.
Though I like this idea, I can’t really stand by it however. Do I want to live a life where I am a piece on a game board, or do I want to have the chance to grow and change based on the decisions I make. Perhaps the two things aren’t mutually exclusive, but I am still grappling with where they intersect. Another movie to tackle this question was The
Adjustment Bureau. Angels nudged decisions when the intersection I just mentioned would have really thrown the world off course.
Whoa… so now not only is God manipulating things, but so are the angels who interpret and carry out his orders; we all know how that would go. Even with the best, holy intentions actions can be misdirected. As this occurs in the movie we see that life is messy, even in a pseudo controlled way.
This then is I think the bottom line. Life is messy. It isn’t supposed to be free of stress and problems and bad luck. I have come to believe it is how I react to the things that happen to me, be they good or bad, that gives my life
meaning. And ultimately, this is why I think bad luck comes in threes; because today, as we wait and search for that other shoe to fall, I, not God, may send my ski boot flying through the air with one of the decisions I make.
Have I just tempted fate? Perhaps, but at least then we will all be able to finally breathe a sigh of relief that the last, in our set of three, troubles are over… until the next time.
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