Last week, on Twitter, I replied that “@ieniemienie *does not believe in chance* #therearenoaccidents.” Unintentionally, I hit a very tender spot with a mom who lost her son through an accident. In this blog I’ll try to put into words what can not be said in 140 characters.
I don’t believe in accidents. I don’t believe in predestination either. So what do I believe then? Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that which makes most sense to me, on all levels, is the concept of ‘concurrence’. In Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, concurrence is described as ‘a situation in which two or more things happen at the same time.’
Have you ever watched ‘Aircrash Investigation’? This TV show, aired on the National Geographic Channel, examines plane crashes and near-crashes. Each episode is a recount of a (near-)crash and how it happened. It is a detailed investigation into what went wrong. Interestingly, it almost never is one thing that went terribly wrong. Usually, the crash is a concurrence of choices, a lot of seemingly small and everyday choices from a lot of different people that come together in a catastrophic plane accident.
We make choices, every day, all day. Most choices are automatic, because they’re habitual. But our choices, however small and insignificant, almost always affect other people. I guess the most famous example is the radius of a smile. My choice to smile is essentially nothing else than the choice to put my lips in a certain position. Yet, the consequences can be far-reaching. By putting my lips in the smile position, I change my physiology. What was but a pose, becomes a feeling. When I smile at other people, they reciprocate, an automated psychological process, and in turn their physiology changes, making it very likely they will adress the next person they meet in a better mood, maybe even smiling. I believe all of our choices can be as far reaching as that smile. Our choices, however insignificant they may seem at the time can have enormous consequences, good and bad.
I believe every choice has an underlying intention or motivation which eventually determines the outcome. Our intentions can be rooted in fear or in love. Fear (the ultimate fear being ‘not being good enough’) creates painful experiences, while love creates constructively. In an episode of Air Crash Investigation, there usually is a mechanic, somewhere down the line, who, because of lack of time, chose to do a small checkup when he actually needed to do a full checkup and not told anyone, thus missing a potentially catastrophic problem, or a mechanic who did a full checkup found a small problem, chose not to repair it at the time and forgot to mention it in the checkup plan, leaving the next mechanics who according to schedule only needed to do a small checkup unaware of the growing problem. I’m not pointing my finger at those mechanics. Their mistakes, however catastrophic, were human. I could have made them. Yet, I’m sure their intentions were rooted in fear. Fear of not being ready in time, fear of not being good enough, fear of losing a job, fear of – you name it. I know for sure that a healthy sense of self, a love for repairing planes, a genuine love for people, and the sense of meaning that comes from this combination would have led to different choices, creating a different outcome.
I don’t believe in accidents. I do believe in a concurrence of choices. And I believe the dominant intention of our choices determines the outcome. As a consequence, I believe life is about clarifying our intentions, and learning to make choices that are rooted in love. I believe that if we do just that, tomorrow will be a better day.