October 29, 2012

If it's Meant to Happen...So it Goes.

After a few hours exploring Tsunashima, I found my way to a peaceful café/massage parlor that I pass every day on the way to the station. I wanted to finish Slaughterhouse Five and enjoy a cup of tea.

I did both of these while also enjoying a warm neck pillow and the musical stylings of (and I swear this was the order in which they played):
1979-The Smashing Pumpkins
Push- Matchbox Twenty
Possibly, Maybe (live)- Björk
Wannabe- The Spice Girls
Lucky- Jason Mraz
Pyramid Song- Radiohead
I stopped taking notes after Radiohead because I was too deep into my book to listen to anything else. Plus I was worried they'd play more Mr. AZ.
Come for the tea, stay for the obscure playlist.
What the world does not need is another review of Kurt Vonnegut's most celebrated and best selling novel. I believe I am one of the last humans in the Western world to read the story of how Billy Pilgrim became unstuck in time, so instead of sharing my thoughts on the book, I will instead
share the connection I made with an email I received.

In this email, a friend used the cliché "If it's meant to be, it'll happen". I have offered this advice many times despite the uneasiness I always felt using it. I do not believe in fate, and the implication of this condolence is that our futures are out of our control so it is best not to worry. Slaughterhouse Five deals with the concepts of fate vs. freewill. Pilgrim learns, thanks to an intergalactic race who see the fourth dimension, that all people exist at all points in life. It is no bother worrying about death, for that is only one point at which that particular person exists.

What I realized is that the cliché is less a commentary on our influence on the future and more on our ability to accept the way things are (and will be). Our fates are not sealed, but they will become our presents and it is important to embrace where we are. This is not to say that we should not constantly strive to influence and shape our future, but when we're there, regardless of if it's where we wanted to be or not (and whether or not we actually had influence on getting there), we are there. 

Billy Pilgrim travels through his life forwards and backwards, never seeming to care where he is at any point or that he has lost people close to him or witnessed atrocities. He knows that that was how it was meant to be and that there wasn't a thing he or anyone could have done about it. "So it goes" is the sentence that follows every mention of someone's death. I do not believe in fate, nor do I think Vonnegut did, but what I do believe is that once we arrive somewhere, we have to accept that we have arrived, if even for a moment.

I believe the sentiment behind the cliché is that some things are out of our hands and we should therefore not let them occupy our thoughts or emotion. We can model ourselves after Pilgrim and welcome where we are. For him, he knew that it was always supposed to be like that, and for us, it doesn't much matter because that's where we are. It may or may not have meant to be, but it happened.

No comments: