As I was driving my two eldest chickens to school, the tallest one had quite the observation to share. She said that she sits in class sometimes and thinks about how out of all the people in the world who could be placed in her class, that somehow these specific people are in the class with her. That if given the slightest change in a certain life event, the people in that room may be totally different people. She felt grateful for the circumstances which led to her becoming friends with her current friends. Then she relaxed back into the passenger’s seat and said, “I just think about that sometimes.”
Kids. Am I right?
However, it is pretty incredible to think about the chain of events that lead you to certain people in your life. And you think if one of those things hadn’t happened, how totally different your story might be. A couple posts back I mentioned I got fired from a job in high school. That led me to working at a home improvement store where I met my husband. Before we started dating, I actually quit working at the home improvement store and didn’t even say goodbye to him. In October of that same year, we had this freak ice storm in Omaha. My parent’s house lost electricity for a week. I was supposed to work at the bank on Saturday morning. A friend of mine had been in town from college for the weekend and I spent the night and we stayed up all night laughing and catching up. I called in to work the next morning, using the excuse that due to having no electricity for the week, I had no professional clothes to wear to work. This excuse didn’t fly and I was told I needed to get in to work, even if I had to wear the same outfit I wore the last time I worked. Did I mention I hated that job? So I quit. Got my job back at the home improvement store. Ended up dating my husband (spoiler alert, we got married).
What if Nebraska weather was normal and we didn’t have a freak ice storm in October? Or we hadn’t lost electricity? What if my friend hadn’t been in town? I won’t even go into all the steps that led my husband to move to Omaha. The eldest chicken isn’t crazy to sit around thinking about these things. I like to think about them too, and it sort of blows my mind when I do.
It’s interesting to me to see how our stories evolve and with just minor tweaks, how different they could really be. Sometimes we are active players in those stories and sometimes events happen to us that change our paths. Do you ever wonder what it would be like to disrupt your path and see where it takes you?
I think when you are younger you may be more willing to blow things up and see what happens. As you get older though, the foundation of your story has been pretty well cemented. Blowing it up might cause some serious cracks to that foundation. With everything you’ve built on top of that foundation, falling from that height through those cracks might hurt a little more than when you were 20.
As we get older we build these safety rails around us, and we stay inside those rails. Some of us give ourselves a little more leeway than others, so we have a little space to explore and make some leaps, but always within the safety of those rails. What would happen if we took the rails off? If we took away any sort of boundary we’ve placed on ourselves? Think about how safe you feel in a fenced-in backyard versus open space? Even if it’s acres of land, you have lots of land to roam, but the fence keeps you from venturing into unknown territory.
I remember reaching a certain point in my life and realizing I didn’t have to be a certain religion. I could believe anything I wanted. It was so freeing. And a little unsettling because if I can believe anything…it’s just so wide open. I could create my own religion if I wanted. We live in a society that has all these rules. I guess they are there to help people with those safety rails. Don’t venture too far out. As long as you follow the rules, you can live a happy life. Don’t question the rules, you’ll be even happier. Don’t look over that fence, you’ll never know what you are missing.
I think that’s why I like reading and writing. Because maybe in real life, we can’t live a thousand different stories, but inside a book, the opportunities to experience different lives are endless. You can play “what if” over and over and over again. You can rewrite other people’s stories to give them the happy ending they deserve, but have yet to find. You can yank the safety rails down because inside a story there is no risk. No real life person that’s impacted. You can explore as much as you want.
We need the rails, right? It just makes good sense to not venture out too far. We have a lot to deal with just living inside the rails. It’s possible the mystery of what’s beyond the fence is better than the reality anyways. It could be you jump that fence, hike a few miles and find some giant sewage treatment center when you thought you were going to find a beautiful waterfall. But then again…sometimes blowing things up can be fun too. I’ll let you decide.