Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Week in the Life of Deve

I'm working on a personal philosophy of life. The book is tentatively titled, The Tao of Deve. This is obviously a riff on the movie titled The Tao of Steve, with the name modified to a nickname I sometimes use.

That being said, this past seven days has been rather, um, "interesting." Pull up a stool, sit a spell, and hear tell about A Week in the Life of Deve. Have you ever had a week like this?

  • Last Thursday, a person I did not know committed suicide in the parking garage under the building in which I work. Crime scene tape went up, and we are all left wondering what happened to this poor soul to cause this irreversible outcome?
  • Friday, while riding home from work on my motorcycle, I came upon a fatal accident involving a fellow motorcyclist and a truck. The collision had occurred moments before I arrived at the intersection between Richmond Highway and the street that goes to my house. The biker was traveling at a high rate of speed and the impact with the turning truck was so violent as to require life-flights for the driver and the two passengers... of the truck. Let's just say out of respect for the dead that life-flight was not required for the biker, who obviously died on impact. More crime scene tape, and hundreds of stunned neighbors. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, at the fateful intersection, family and friends held nightly vigils for the motorcyclist.
  • Wednesday morning, a gunman started shooting at people practicing for the Congressional baseball game. This national news occurred minutes after I rode my motorcycle right by the Alexandria park on my way to the office. The camera crews were still there at noon when I went home for lunch. Five people were injured and the gunman, who shot some 50 rounds from his rifle before Park Police and Special Agents protecting Congress-persons stopped him, is dead. More crime scene tape. More questions.
  • Wednesday, continued. While driving my daughter to pick up her car over our lunch break, we witnessed a driver in the lane to our left swerve to his right, over-correct to the left, lose control of his car, and sideswipe the Jersey barrier separating inner and outer loop of Beltway traffic. His side airbag deployed and we watched him safely slow his vehicle to a stop in the breakdown lane. Thankfully, no other vehicles were involved. What-if questions abound. What if he had completely lost control? What if there had been no Jersey barrier and the driver went head-on into opposing traffic? What if he were injured by the impact with the barrier--would we have be competent to render aid? What if there had been more traffic--and more cars involved in a pile-up? Lastly and most hauntingly--what if he had careened into our car?

I share these four vignettes to express my grateful heart and to encourage others to find things to be grateful for amidst the occasionally terrifying events around us. Yes, sometimes we must look a little harder to find the good, but it is always possible and always worth the effort.

Life is stochastic. I personally believe in something I call God-authored randomness. In other words, the Universe is intentionally and deliberately uncertain--by design. I don't believe that there is no plan. Rather, I believe that the plan is to allow random forces to work. If nothing else, this keeps us on our toes. But it also explains why good things happen to bad people.

The effect on me of being in close proximity to any one of these four recent events? I feel lucky. Nothing more. I do not feel protected by the hand of God, though I appeal to God for protection and believe that such appeals have a positive effect. I am only vaguely aware of how often I've dodged bullets like these. I am grateful to be alive in terrifyingly interesting times.

The effect of all four of these events in a week? I take a step back. I get a bit philosophical. I realize I must pay attention to my surroundings. I vow to never take a single day for granted. We should all consider that fate is fickle. Life is good, even when it seems chaotic, unfair, or tragic.

Speaking of chaotic, I had a friend ask me if my concept of God-authored randomness wasn't just a new name for Chaos Theory. Not really, not in my humble opinion anyway. Chaos theory states that underlying the apparent chaos is an unseen order. The oft-cited example is the butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil and causing a a tornado in Texas--"causing" being the key word. Chaos theory depends on the inter-connected-ness of all things. Unbroken chains of events only appear to be chaotic but are actually predictable.

Perhaps God is the Master Watch Maker and the Universe is an inconceivably complex watch, as Chaos Theory implies. But it is simpler and saner (IMHO) to imagine God as an all-powerful but somewhat laissez faire Creator who unleashed the life force and who delights in all its many manifestations as it struggles, adapts, and overcomes all obstacles in seeking its Source. The God-authored randomness theory states that life happens according to the biological imperative (which could be seen as a Divine charter) and the circumstances of daily living are completely random--no underlying order can or should be inferred.

Believe it or not: we are where we're meant to be. Some of us are more successful, some less so. Every moment is a gift. The wind is at our backs. The sun is in our faces. Rain falls gently on our fields. Storms do come and go--some wreaking devastation and leaving destruction in their wake. That's part of the deal. None of us knows what will happen tomorrow, but we can all know that, come what may, life is good. Bad things happen to good people, yet we must strive to be good, just, and compassionate. I am happy, and grateful to be alive.

It's been a rather interesting week in the Life of Deve.