Fate…or Chance…or Neither?


One of the interesting things in life is not knowing what might happen and how it will affect you.

I’ve been of the mindset that people cross my path for a reason.

I found a quote, from my favorite writer, (unknown) that states, “Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that has yet to come.”

Even the briefest of encounters can alter my path or heading.

Often times, I find myself in a situation and I’ll recall an event that happened years before that I now realize propelled me in the place I currently find myself in.

My faith has made me realize that in this “bumper pool game of life”, I may have a slight encounter that alters my trip or direction.

Several weekends ago, my son-in-law and I were washing and waxing the RV in preparation for the season’s first road trip.

While were were polishing and buffing, a young man and a little girl, both on bicycles stopped at the end of the driveway and we struck up a very brief conversation.

My son-in-law told him we could find him an extra rag if he cared to join us in the “buff-a-thon”.

We introduced ourselves to one another and shook hands, sans face-coverings which probably violated numerous CDC guidelines.

But we knew the two of us had been vaccinated and I think we were ready for an opportunity to interact with humans in the “old-fashioned way”.

He told us his little girl had stickers that she was handing out.

We looked over the assortment and each grabbed one and then, they were on their way.

I told my son-in-law, they must be new to the neighborhood because I didn’t recall seeing them around before this.

A few days later, I found out this young guy had passed away.

His life ended probably no more than 12 hours after we had talked with him and shook hands.

It made me pause and wonder, “Why?”

Hey, I’ve lived enough years in my life to have experienced the deaths of numerous dear relatives and friends.

But in all those cases, I had some degree of additional life experience to assist me in dealing with the experience.

Not so, in this case.

From Loubins and Champagne, I find, “There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs”.

I found a poster that stated, “We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our paths for a reason.”

Some might suggest “fate” was involved.

Merriam Webster defines “fate” as “the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power; implies an inevitable and a usually adverse outcome, predetermined state or end.”

Others might say this was a “chance” encounter.

Again, the dictionary people define that as “the happening of events that is not planned or controlled; something that happens unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause.”

Still I wonder why this brief encounter has troubled me so.

American author Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Limony Snicket) wrote, “Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd, little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”

I have little doubt that this brief episode on that Saturday afternoon was meant to get my attention.

For what, I’m not sure.

But Japanese writer Haruki Murakami states, “Chance encounters are what keep us going”.

For a brief moment, I thought, “Should I or could I have said something that might have nudged this fellow in another direction, besides an early death?”

But Gautama Buddha, from the “Sayings of Buddha” states, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Still, I keep looking for a reason to this fleeting experience.

The German/Swiss poet, novelist and painter, Herman Hesse said, “I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way, we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”

So that’s where I’m headed.

It’s like being in a boat on the lake in a fog.

The compass tells you you’re headed in the right direction but you’re still not certain until you see those lights on the shoreline or that lighthouse.

I was reminded of some thoughts I found years ago that read, “Sometimes the road of life takes an unexpected turn and you have no choice but to follow it to end up in the place you were supposed to be.”

Patience is not always one of my strongest personal traits.

In Ecclesiastes 7:9, I am reminded, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

American novelist Julia Glass wrote, “When it comes to life, we spin our own yarns and where we end up is really, in fact, where we always intended to be.”

I’m strapped in, ready to see where this experience takes me.

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