The Acceptance of Unpredictability

Photo by  Todd Cravens  on  Unsplash

Life is a perplexing labyrinth. We hope for things. We develop expectations. But the world has a way of never doing exactly as we wish. And if it does, it won’t happen again.

Because the world isn’t just your world. It’s our world. And every action each of us takes on any given day influences something else that will happen.

The route you take to work one day could save someone’s life. You will never know. Because by changing routes, there was one less car at the intersection of Smith and Vine when the accident happened. And one more car would have pushed the four car pileup onto the sidewalk. Where those people were.

But what if they decided to go somewhere else that morning? Who else would be there instead? Life is anything but predictable. And until we accept the inherent unpredictability that every second entails, we are not accepting of life. We are hiding from it.

The Lure of Predictability

Being predictable is nice. At least it is for me. I like knowing that I am going to like a certain meal. I like knowing my schedule. I like that people know what they can expect of me. I also like to outdo that expectation.

But that is within my control. The rest of the world, outside of my physical actions and choices, are not. Sometimes I think I would like it to be. So I would know exactly how everything would go every day. This is the lure of predictability.

If we know, then nothing can go wrong. But sh*t goes wrong every day. Everywhere. For everyone. We can’t hide from it. Just because we do the same morning routine every day doesn’t mean our kids are safe at school.

Being predictable doesn’t control the response of others. So even as we try to make our lives as streamlined as possible, it doesn’t change everyone else. And the majority of our life is determined by factors outside of decisions we make for ourselves.

Chance. Happenstance. Luck. Destiny. Fate. Life.

Life happens. And although the lure of predictability is attractive. It’s unrealistic.

Why Unpredictability is Good

Unpredictability is a constant wake-up call. Sometimes subtle, sometimes harsh. It reminds us that we are not in control. Because we aren’t. We never will be. We are on a rotating orb in the middle of space. We are a speck. What happens is a microcosm of zillions of decisions every day.

I don’t think any of us want a totally unpredictable partner. But they would probably be very entertaining. And sometimes scary. And sometimes a ghost. But that could be anyone. People are the way the are until they aren’t. Just because you think someone is fine one day doesn’t mean they are. And it doesn’t mean they will be tomorrow.

Unpredictability is a gut check for the world. And for us. It’s a challenge to see how we react. Do we crumble? Or do we persist? Big things. Little things. When the dry cleaner ruins our favorite shirt that is no longer in production, do we get mad and yell at them (as if they tried to ruin it) or do we just keep moving?

Maybe that shirt was holding us back. Because it was cool seven years ago, but not anymore. But no one wanted to tell us. They knew we loved it too much. And for too long. But now it was gone. And we will need a new favorite shirt. What could happen on our journey to find that?

Maybe nothing. Just another boring click on Bonobos and a shipping expectation. Or maybe we go down to the hip store in our town. And we make a new friend. And in ten years we start a business with that friend. And sell it to Jeff Bezos. Or maybe we cry about our lost shirt for days. I hope not.

Unpredictability can’t be avoided. You can’t hide from it. You must accept it to accept all that life has to offer.

Accepting Unpredictability

I am not a big risk taker. I like to know everything. So accepting the unknown and the unpredictable has been a long voyage for me. One that still has not landed. It never will. Because every decision I make will influence another one.

But I have learned to accept the fact that I can not know everything. I can not learn everything. I can not understand what lives deep inside of other people if they are not willing to be honest with me, and themselves. I have learned to accept unpredictability. Because there is no other way.

As much as I thought I would like to know how the rest of my life would go, I finally understand that I don’t want that at all. If I were to die tomorrow I would rather not know today. Because I wouldn’t be able to accept it. And even if that was the universal plan, something could change.

Something can always change.

I used to think I was predictable. But while writing this, I realized I am not at all. People always tell me I am impossible to read. And I like that. Because although I am honest and straightforward, I don’t want everyone to know everything about how I am feeling all the time.

Because sometimes I don’t know how I am feeling. And your reaction to me could change the way I am feeling. Life is f*cking unpredictable. You never know when a stranger will brighten your day. And you never know when life will crumble right in front of your eyes.

To accept unpredictability is to accept a lack of control.

The World Will Never Do Exactly As You Wish

Did you think it would? Did you think you were so smart and had it so together that the rest of the world would stand still and not f*ck everything up? You were wrong if you did.

The world will never do exactly as you want. Because it’s unpredictable.

Unforeseeable. Uncertain. Unsure. Dubious. Iffy.

This is life. This is the world. It’s time to accept it.