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Shifting Despite Plans

Posted in Adventures With Humans


Easter Sunday, 2024, and a David Foster Wallace quote popped up on my social media feed. It was taken from his ginormous novel, ‘Infinite Jest.’ “[A]lmost nothing that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of a ‘psst’ that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer.”  I barely noticed the quote, scrolled past, then almost tripped over myself trying to reach back and find it. At 61 years of age, this quote rings true, true, true. Jesus, anything I have tried to yes, ‘engineer,’ so arrange based on what’s just sensible; purely schema, has never worked out. Wait a minute. It’s not that the gig never worked out, but it was never the most remarkable detail. During whatever the broader scenario, it was the synchronistic, or absolutely bonkers events that happened ‘during,’ that taught me about myself, about being human; real life will show up for you, despite your plans.
Along the way, so far, I have rescued someone from a flipped car in the snow, sat with a woman who had been hit by a van and was lying unconscious on the road, rescued two people from a stopped elevator, broke into my grandmother’s apartment when she was too ill to come and unlock the door for my father and me. I nursed my husband through cancer, and came up with unique leg sling that made it possible for him to leave the hospital after he had torn a hamstring tendon playing hockey. I’ve performed the Heimlich on my mother, twice, successfully. I’ve picked her up off of the floor after she had fallen and hit her head, and then up out of her bed after she had fractured a vertebrae–not on the same day of course! There has been joy, and sadness, and some tragedy along the way. Each time there occurred an event with some charge to it, I learned from it and grew.
When I think about how it all went down, it seems that the first part of my life let me know that I was capable. The second part of my life put me in a scenario that, as it dovetailed with the first, clearly illustrated my realization that now, in the third part of my life, I am worthy of love. I wonder how things might have gone if I had felt this worthiness all the way along. It’s absolutely okay to wonder, and a normal thing to do, but the key is to be grateful for the ‘now,’ for whatever happened that got me to where I am.
My favourite quote is from Salinger’s ‘Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters, and Seymour and Introduction.’ It’s at the end and is, “Seymour once said that all we do our whole lives is go from one little piece of Holy Ground to the next.” You don’t need to believe in God for this quote to work. You simply need the ability to be aware and fully present, so you can note when you are making the shift. It’s common for me to find myself done with an author, or a piece of music after a swath of good focus, and I’ve experienced this enough to know how it works. I call it a ‘margin,’ and I’m in one right now. I feel like something big is shifting. It’s uncomfortable, but there is no way around it. I hope it’s good. I hope I can hear the ‘psst.’