Even though we all know on some level or another that life is unpredictable, hardly anyone lives like they believe it. Even those who live outside norms are surprised and taken aback when some person or thing does not react the way they had predicted.
I’m guilty of this in my own life. I say that tomorrow is a mystery, but in my mind I have already predicted how things will go. I know, or pretend to know, the places my choices will take me.
Last night, I didn’t want company, so I left my roommates and went to the park to read. Usually, I call people while walking, but that day I didn’t. I wanted to be alone, and the places that most guarantee solitude are often the most public, like parks, libraries, trains, buses and streets. It’s funny how communal areas are the ones we become most possessive of our privacy in. But as I read that evening, I was approached to talk. The man was a self proclaimed outsider, calling to me that, while he knows he seems a creep, he just wanted to know what I was reading and why I read, since his dyslexia prevented him from reading himself.
We talked a while, this man and I, speaking uncomfortable truths as we mutually proved false the other’s predictions, mine of a quiet evening, his of the quiet girl reading. He asked me for a favorite quote, and I told him a friend called me fairy dust stitched together with barbed wire. It was a strange meeting in the dusk, and I believe I proved the quote true, as he kept saying how strange I was to exist.
I think that the moment when we start to make the mistake of believing we can predict life, life turns around and gives us this look of exasperation and offense, as we’ve denied an integral part of it. We go through days predicting what will happen and what we will do. I often in my head run through conversations and work that will happen the next day or the next week, planning out my steps with only the specific words said by others left out. I feel like I can plan out my life based on my assumptions of the world and the bubble that I live in.
But life is not like that. We do not live in bubbles. We are each a whole person with a whole story, full of interactions with others and a future of interactions with others. And as we move past and with each other, we bring all of this to a beautiful collision. And sometimes the crash is loud, and sometimes it is too small to notice, but we are being impacted by each other constantly, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Life can never be predictable, until we know all the inner and outer lives of those we bump into, or might bump into.
We can never know what will happen, so I should stop being surprised by life not going to plan, and know that there are always people who will surprise me.
Just as I will continue to surprise others, since I suppose it is strange to some to find fairy dust reading in the park.