You might not know it but it could have been your fault! And the rest of the world that is.
What a way to start the week.
I missed the MRT skipping train in Cubao by a mere 2 seconds and had to wait for 40 more minutes and for the 8th train that can fit us. 2 seconds turned into 2400 seconds. As in I was running up the escalator and was just 3 steps and a hop from the train door when they closed in front of me. Darn I hate that feeling. So close but not quite.
A minute before this, the girl in front of me took 3 seconds than usual to get in via the turnstiles, as she had to look for her ticket in her messy bag. 14 seconds earlier, there was an old couple who was understandably slow in walking up the staircase but was blocking the whole path in Cubao MRT station. Trace back 2 minutes from this point and I was in a van, when the driver stopped for a 10-second chit chat with a friend he saw on the road. If these did not happen, I could have made it to the train and was on time for work and for a 9am meeting.
Funny and freaky how our actions affect other people’s lives. Intention to affect others positively or negatively might not be present, yet there will still be an irreversible effect somehow somewhere. We need not go to complex concepts of interdependence and relationships and networking and globalization. Yes these too create ripple effects in the many lives involved, but to some extent there is an element of choice and intent present. My example on why I was late was due to seemingly random occurrences possibly coincidences, innocent no-intention-to-harm actions from random people. And yet they too cause irreversible events and repercussions. What do we call this? Fate? Random coincidence? Ripple effect? Murphy’s Laws? Life?
Am not passing the blame, not all of it anyway. Am not discounting the fact that I could have done something on my end to have avoided this, such as wake up a bit more early, eat and dress up faster, run faster, etc. Yes, these are controllable aspects but I’m sure you’ll agree that sometimes, $#!+(or blessings in disguise) JUST HAPPENS. Whether we like it or not, things just get out of hand. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences:
The person in front of you buying the last pair of shoe or the last seat in a concert or bus, or if you left 2 minutes early you won’t encounter heavy traffic, otherwise you’ll be stuck in traffic for 30 minutes. Or you were 5 minutes late in submitting your paper since your dot-matrix printer took hours to print your crammed thesis – so you failed the course and will not be graduating this March.
Or the survivor story of 9/11 bombing when she was late for work that morning only to find out that the twin towers are already burning and collapsing. What if she was on time for work that day, as she usually was? Or plane and ship passengers who missed their flights and trips due to exogenous factors, only to find out that the flight crashed or the ship sank? See it can go either way. The seemingly random events can change our lives either for the better or worse, either short-term or long-term. Are we in a poor helpless existence?
Many Philosophers have dealt with this reality of life and I might go into that some time in the future. For now, this reminds me of the movie Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon in it. I liked the concept of undercover individuals working to alter our paths in life so that it can go back on track as laid out in a book. Whatever we do, we are led back to this path. The alterations are done without us knowing it, with us attributing these alterations to random events (I did not quite like the ending of the movie though). They say we write our history and destiny via our choices. To a greater extent yes but still subject to the limitations of What Is. Sakop pa rin tayo ng Meron.
Mitch Albom also touched on this in his Five People You Meet in Heaven where again (seemingly) random events are actually very much interrelated (i.e. the Blue Man eventually died because of an innocent kid trying to cross the street).
Funny, freaky but not improbable.
The concept of Final Destination movies (these movies I really don’t like) takes this reality to the extreme, but yeah you can say unlikely but possible. Extreme but real.
This is not for us to despair and dismiss life as a jambalaya of random events and choices both from us and from the world. Helpless poor existence? Definitely not. We still have lots of big and small choices to make which charts our general direction in life. AND we have to be open to the fact that we operate inside the Meron, where there are things and people out there who can alter our courses in life. That’s what it is. Ganyan talaga ang buhay.
And also next time, let us be conscious of the indeterminate impact of our actions to other people. We can start by not blocking the way when we ride the escalators, so that other people can still pass by and overtake us. In an escalator, if you’re not in a hurry, keep right.