A cube of ice trembled in the hand of a stupid boy.
Like a loaded dice, its melting walls possessed the power to steer the fate of the foolish teenager.
From the top of the bleachers the boy considers a dare as a high school marching band blares behind him.
Two hundred feet below a car is driving by with an open window.
What are the odds that the boy would know better than to release his ice cube?
What are the odds that the boy's aim would be true?
What are the odds that the wind wouldn't affect the ice's trajectory enough to prevent a direct hit?
What are the odds that the target would be an unmarked police car?
What are the odds that the cops wouldn't spot the boy's face when they looked up?
What are the odds that the boy's friends would cover for him?
What are the odds that his marching band wouldn't be kicked out of the competition?
What are the odds that the band director wouldn't be able to pin the crime on the misfit trombone player?
Against all odds I survived my own stupidity that day. But is luck the best way to frame this story?
“Lucky” is a word we choose when we don’t want to participate in our personal narratives. We can describe our entire life history as a series of dice rolls where the odds bless or curse us. Rather than accept the embarrassment of my teenage inaction, I can excuse myself by saying I was lucky I didn’t get caught. I can make it sound as if the ice cube was controlling my destiny, as if the moment it left my hand a series of events was set in motion that I didn’t have any control over. Which of course is nonsense. My options may have been uncomfortable but they would have changed me from a passive observer of my life into a person controlling the story.
Reality is the assembly of all the little stories we tell ourselves. We can choose the narrative where chance bounces us off walls of fortune and disaster. You can tell yourself that life is melting ice, that our fate flutters in the wind, that our only option is to brace for impact. You can pray to gravity, ask it to spare you from its downward pull. Or we can intervene, claim the lead role in the movie playing in your head and change the story at the exact moment when you realize you have made a mistake.
Thanks for reading. I write every Saturday and I invite you to join my mental movie. Stay creative.
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