Saturday, 23 May 2009

Balancing on the Edge of Chaos

We live our lives precariously balanced on the Edge of Chaos. Each day that passes without a catastrophic event that can plunge any of us into turmoil should be given thanks for. Accidents - fatal or disabling - disease, premature bereavement, wars, job loss, break-ups of relationships, crimes against one's person or property, financial or natural disasters - even relatively small things (loss of wallet and all those documents and cards) - such events can strike out of the blue.

But unannounced? I'm ever on the look-out for coincidences. The universe is held together by a web of coincidence, patterns to look for, the meaning is there. For example, seeing one person with an eye-patch is rare. Seeing a second one in a day carries meaning. Ignore this, and while you're sitting in Accident & Emergency, waiting for a doctor to attend your eye poked with a branch while out cycling, you'll be recalling those two eye-patched people you saw the previous day. Seeing two fire engines rushing to two separate fires should cause the observer to consider the possibility of fire occurring closer to home. That, dear reader, is how coincidence works for me.

Bad things often happen because I've only half-thought about them. The schadenfreude when something bad happens to someone else, and I fail to consciously discount the possibility of it happening to me (a virus strikes a colleague’s computer – their fault for being IT illiterate, not taking precautions, etc, then blow me if a data-destroying disaster doesn’t befall my computer!)

The avoidance of disasters happening can, I believe, be achieved simply by thinking about the possibility of their occurrence. I've never wanted to say this, fearing that by doing so, the system will fail me; after many years, I feel sufficiently grateful for my life to share this.

I give thanks for my health twice a day, while brushing my teeth. A form of prayer, a communication with God, an expression of gratitude to one's maker, while praying for the health of my loved ones. The placebo effect taken to its logical conclusion; belief in the power of belief harnessed to enhance health.

Taking one's good fortune for granted is a sure way of losing it. Complacency is very dangerous in nature [curiously, there's no word in Polish for 'complacent'. Zadowolony z siebie (being self-satisfied) misses by a long shot]. Inferring that fortune will continue being to good because it has been up to now, is to have been lulled into a false sense of security; the Boethian Wheel of Fortune rotates randomly.

Being consciously aware of what one has to be thankful for gives one a better chance of keeping it. I like the rabbinical injunction to be [a]ware of days when you are happy to know that dark days will come; and in the darkest of days to know that happiness is bound to return.

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