A few days ago I had a fair amount of misfortune with buses. One of my lessons got out early, and if I had jogged to the bus stop I could have caught a bus that would have had me home by 8:30 rather than 9:05 — but I assumed I could not catch it. As it was I had miscalculated. Instead I passed the half-hour to the next bus in Half-Price Books, where I was able to purchase Shaun Tan’s “The Arrival” (which I have longed for), inform the clerk that the actress she was thinking of was Alyson Hannigan, and later on direct another passenger to the bus stop he needed. In short, my bad timing proved useful not only for me, but for two other people.
It’s not the first time the bus has taught me this lesson; on one occasion I missed my stop on the Route 44, got off later than usual, and immediately saw a homeless man panhandling outside Bartell’s; I had $5 in my pocket and I gave it to him, understanding that this was exactly why I had delayed getting off.
Accidental leadings, we might call them — not that they are leadings that happen by accident, sent by some absentminded Almighty, but leadings that take the form of seeming accidents, inconvenient for us but ultimately positive for others (or for ourselves as well).
So when we are hampered or inconvenienced or delayed, let us open ourselves to the possibilities that might flow from the delay. This is not to say we should bear abuse or injustice lightly; while good things can flow from our response to abuse, we should not, as some rather controlling faiths have advised, simply suffer in silence when we are willfully mistreated. But simple misfortune might actually prove to be great good fortune, if we bear the inconveniences and don’t let them frustrate us into rage.
“The One still controls random chance,” I said once — the chance meetings, the want of a horseshoe nail, the small flickers of fate that tug at us (and the whole world) in different directions than the ones we want to go in. Let’s remember, as we ad lib our lines and entrances on life’s strange stage, that there may well be a director behind the scenes and in the audience who has an idea about the pacing of the play.