Have you ever sat and pondered the comical fickleness of human life? How seemingly minuscule moments or inconsequential decisions have, it turns out, insurmountable repercussions. Do you think about the hilarity of it all? How ridiculous it is that the continuation of all we know can depend on the most elementary of tasks or moments or, for lack of a better word, things. How one simple action, or inaction, can change everything or ruin everything or complete everything or sustain everything.
I think about it at 2:41 in the morning while the faint sound of pressed computer keys are all that keep me company.
I think about it when it rains.
I think about it on a drive with an ill-advised cigarette pressed between two fingers and strands of stubborn hair slithering across my face.
I think about it moments after I’m forced to return home for some left-behind but ultimately necessary item.
I think about it when I drive past an accident on the freeway mere minutes after it must have happened.
I think about it when I look at my son playing on the floor. His cheeks are puffed and his lips are pursed and he’s contemplating the many complexities of an alphabet block. I think about the decisions that have lead to his existence. The mistakes that, at the moment of their conception, seemed horrible but are now essential and beautiful and perfect. I think about the failed relationships before the one that brought me him. My impressive defeats, each building upon the last with mortar made of hateful words and inexcusable actions, essentially solidifying a new foundation I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to stand on.
I think about it when I say goodbye to my mother, tearful and nostalgic. I wonder what would have happened if she had never met my father. Would her life have been better? She wouldn’t have had my brother or I but she wouldn’t know she circumvented our existence either. She could have lived without abuse and neglect, hatred and betrayal. Her ankle wouldn’t ache when the weather changes because no one would have pushed her down our second story stairs. I bet her brow wouldn’t have as many wrinkles. I bet she would have smiled more in her thirties and forties.
I think about how odd it is to wish my mother had never met him, knowing I’m essentially wishing myself and my sibling away.
I think about it when I hear about an overpass collapsing on a young family, driving home on a particularly beautiful day. How a few seconds of loitering at the grocery store or a difficult time strapping their child into a car seat could have been the difference between life and death. They would have complained about that silly strap; those pesky inches of material that would have kept them alive. If only a green light had been red. If only an idiot had cut them off.
I think about it on the 6th of May, every year. I think about his request for me to come pick him up from his house. I think about my refusal to do so, having had enough drinks to make driving seem irresponsible. I think about my promise to see him the next day; so careless and naive and certain. I think about how alone he must have felt. I think about my words failing where action would have succeeded. I think about him sitting in his garage, a gun in one hand and a bottle in the other.
I stop thinking altogether.
We tend to believe life hangs in the balance of the mind-numbingly significant. We believe fate hides in the corners of monumental altercations because they’re easier to spot. It doesn’t. It is in the decisions we, more often than not, are unaware we’re even making. The decisions that seem smart but leave us with a lifetime of regret. The decisions that felt wrong but ended up being the best choices of our lives.
Do you ever think you’re overthinking?
I think I’m tightrope walking between inquisitive and crazy, balancing myself with fistfuls of guilt and shame and pride and gratitude. I think basking in decisions past – that ultimately resulted in the good and bad, the fantastic and the failed, the beautiful and the horrid – is useless.
And then I think…
…how could I possibly think about anything else.