What if things never really can take a fateful turn? That’s how I put the question to myself as we made our way back from the beach yesterday.
The path is rocky and in some places steep. I was thinking about the Spanish word for path — sendero — a word to which I often return. (I can’t say precisely why.)
Erosion had exposed a tangle of roots in the center of the trail. As I stepped around them I was reminded of our host’s precaution about snakes. But there was no snake in the rut underfoot. Besides, he had said, they are more scared of you than you of them.
On the beach at low tide we’d come across tiny crabs tracing their turns in the sand, leaving trails — senderos, again; crazy squiggles, bizarre hieroglyphics signifying nothing, erratic, eccentric patterns the tide will wash away.
We might, I suppose, appreciate the irony of their situation, or see in their efforts a mockery of our grand human purposes. If witnessing their work does not free us from all anxiety (as the Catholic prayer for mercy has it), it may at least give us reason to believe that our own situation is less tragic than we tend to think.
No fateful turns: just think of all the movie plots, horror stories, songs, diagnoses, epic conceits, and bad ideas about love and God and destiny we could sweep away. And maybe that would leave room for more salutary thoughts, and give us a chance to see ourselves as we are, in the here and now, as creatures and creators of our own history.
Of course, sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes, bad.