Chance is a fine thing

This picture is utterly hypnotizing.

In it are a number of people who are now my friends (close friends, important friends) but in the moment when this photo was taken, I didn’t know any of them. We’re a collection of strangers sitting in a room. The fact that this photo even exists astounds me. There are so many stories waiting to happen, so much potential, so much chance.  

Life is such a flimsy collection of chance events.

When you’re at school you don’t notice these things. Your friendships are formed primarily through circumstance. beccamarsh and I are friends due to a freak timetable incident which meant we were in all the same classes for two years. When you spend six hours a day in the same room as someone, obviously you’re going to talk to each other. We had six years to decide we had things in common. We discovered a lot of things together, creating shared ground. We’ve become the people we are now in close proximity. That doesn’t make the friendship any less important or real. But there’s something a lot less fragile about it.

By contrast I met the people in this photo via a series of random moments: being in the same place at the same time (Sian), getting the same job at the same time (Rosie), walking up to someone and introducing myself (Erin).
There are so many factors influencing those events. Life could so easily have happened a different way.

It’s like dominos. You knock over one and then spend years following the trial of the subsequent domino avalanche. When you knock over the first one it’s almost impossible to tell how far the trail will lead. It might be three long. It might be seven. It might go on for kilometres, bumping against the beginnings of other trails, causing them to cascade in different directions. 

Alex took this photo. That’s weird because I didn’t meet him at this Meet and Greet. I meet him an hour or two later. At McDonalds, buoyed by that particular brand of TiNA euphoria, one of us got up the courage to introduce ourselves to the other (exactly who did the introducing remains in question).
For those who are familiar with Newcastle geography, the idea of meeting anyone worth meeting in King Street Maccas is, frankly, laughable. Finding another person who is there using the wifi to write a blog is just absurd. Put simply, the odds against two socially awkward bloggers actually having a conversation in King Street McDonalds are astronomical.

If you take a moment to think about that first domino you can’t help but follow the trail backwards. The idea of what your life would be if that first domino hadn’t fallen, or another one had fallen instead or if it had fallen at a different time, is oddly creepy.

Take Sideshow. I could so easily have done something else for work experience, in fact I very nearly did. And without that single week I have no idea where my life would be now. Except I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here. There’s every chance that I’ll be following that particular set of dominos, started by such a flimsy set of circumstances, for the rest of my life.

I don’t think I believe in fate but I do believe in chance. Chance, is meeting someone at a McDonalds or a bookshop or a BBQ you almost didn’t go to. Chance is wearing the right shirt on the right day and having a conversation with someone as a result. Fate is believing these things happen for a reason.
Chance is accepting that they just happen and that’s precious. We have to cling onto them when they do. Because you never know where that trail of dominos might lead.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year