“What astonishes me, just as it astonishes a child when he becomes aware of his own identity, is the fact of finding myself here, and at this moment, deep in this life and not in any other. What stroke of chance has brought this about?”
“The penetration of that particular ovum by that particular spermatozoon, with its implications of the meeting of my parents and before that of their birth and the births of all their forebears, had not one chance in hundreds of millions of coming about. And it was chance, a chance quite unpredictable in the present state of science, that caused me to be born a woman. From that point on, it seems to me that a thousand different futures might have stemmed from every single movement of my past: I might have fallen ill and broken off my studies; I might not have met Sartre; anything at all might have happened.”
— Simone de Beauvoir (more on Brain Pickings)
When we only know the surface of life, the physical expressions of this body and its internal thoughts and emotions, life seems an astonishing chance of very low odds. That we continue to live and are not destroyed by folly or accident is a miracle.
But when we take our attention into deeper levels of being and “cleanse the doors of perception” (Blake), we discover life is not simple chance nor the result of random mutations and events. Our parents meeting, our time of birth, our dominant tendencies, and our life structure are all planned and managed. In some ways, our life is the universes, not ours. We are here to be here and watch the show go on.
Certainly there is choice within this progression. But choice functions very much within the constraints of the unfolding play. I can not decide to flap my wings and fly to Mars now.
An analogy I was once shown: we have a clear life path, like a road through life. We can stay on the pavement for the smoothest ride. We can drift onto the gravel shoulder and take the hint to get back on the pavement. Or we can go into the ditch for a slower, more difficult trip. But we can never really leave the road as our life has specific parameters within the unfolding of all other roads. Rather than thrashing about, it’s better to get to know who we are and what we’re here to learn & accomplish. Then the path is so much smoother and rewarding. We can use choice to improve life rather than fight it. And we can play with life. Does this vehicle lay rubber?
How do we know we’re on the smooth part? Our life experience. This doesn’t mean easy – the road will have its hills and bumps. We also may not like the way the road is turning. But if things are moving along, we know this too shall pass. We wouldn’t learn much if life was dull and routine. (laughs)