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Friday, January 18, 2008

So much depends on time

There are those precipitous moments in life when timing is everything: the meeting of a spouse, the avoidance of an accident, the miracle of conception. Events where, upon reflection, it would seem that there was an intelligent design in the way occurences unfolded to produce such a felicitious moment. Such events elevate the seemingly trivial details of our lives: missed phone calls, forgotten jackets, and class schedules become key players in our personal narratives. Call it a "Sliding Doors" moment, when the seemingly trivial event of missing or catching a train dramatically changes the course of one's life.

One such "Sliding Doors" moment occured shortly after Bubba and I moved into a new apartment after our second year of marriage. At the time, I was working at an office job and Bubba was going to school and painting apartments part-time. Each day Bubba called his boss to see what apartment complex they would be working on. As we had just moved over the weekend, our phone wasn't set up, and so Bubba came to the office to use the phone. While he was there, he ran into my boss, and struck up a conversation about school and his philosophy degree and possible career paths. My boss was friends with a man who was a lobbyist, and moments later they were on a conference call with his friend, who just happened to immediately need someone to work on a campaign in New Mexico. By the end of the day we were shopping for suits at ZCMI, and by the end of the week Bubba was driving to New Mexico to start a new job.

This was the moment that set Bubba on the path to becoming a lawyer. If we hadn't have moved that particular weekend, he wouldn't have needed to use my office phone on that exact day, and he wouldn't have run into my boss at that moment, and he wouldn't have accepted an immediate job opening in New Mexico, which in turn helped him become a legislative intern, which in turn influenced him to take the LSAT, etc.

Of course, this may all be complete nonsense. You may be reading this thinking, yeah right. And I must admit, it is quite possible that Bubba would have decided to go to law school whether or not this particular event had occured. I mean, what else was he supposed to do with a philosophy degree?

Maybe "Sliding Doors" moments only exist in retrospect. Maybe we create them to organize our personal narratives, to make sense of the random events that take place, to identify the catalyst of a change. By naming the moment that sparked a change, we also allow ourselves to muse on the parrallel lives we might have lived if the moment hadn't happened. If not "X", we wonder, than maybe "Y" or "Z" would have occured. And even if we imagine these alternative lifes to be better or worse than reality, their pretend existences help us identify our feelings about our own life.

Even so, it can't be denied that our lives move through time, and that time, and timing, has an undeniable effect on us. As the poet William Carlos Williams so sparsely penned:

"so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens."

8 comments:

Stacy & Mike said...

I am believer in the "sliding doors" phenomenom. It's how I in retrospect explain marrying my husband. It's also how I explain the naming of our children. Clearly getting them here can also be explained the same way. My job, all of Mike's jobs, wow, I am just glad that there is intelligent design. Don't ask me where I would be had there not been.

Hansens said...

I am a believer that things happen when they do for a reason, I also support the thought that they may have happened just at a later time. Like had Bubba not gone to New Mexico when he did he could just be starting law school instead of starting his first job!
Hence, Danny in Chiropractic school with 4 kids!

Cheryl and William said...

The thing that I love most about Sliding Doors is that the way that you think it would be best to work out, aka she makes the train, actually isn't the best. Its the way that you didn't anticipate that works out. I think so much is true of our life- I'm so glad that things didn't turn out the way that I 'planned' because they have definitely been better than I ever dreamed. Oh- what I also like in that movie is that in both scenarios, she was with the great guy- I think that is in life too, that if its meant to be, it will happen in whatever scenario.

Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful poem. I hadn't seen it before.

I'm glad Bubba went to law school. But I hate that movie.

~Chris

jdm said...

Kim,
I LOVE reading your posts.
I do believe in those moments. At least I catch myself thanking my lucky stars for many things that I believe would have gone another way had I made a different move.
I am also a sucker for the movie.

Did you ever read Twilight?
A friend dropped it off and I am going to give in.

Stacy & Mike said...

Kim you should give in and read Twilight just so you can do a post/book review on it. It would be interesting for you to chime in and give us your perspective.

janel said...

So would you say that Bubba's farewell to you in your yearbook would NOT count as a "sliding door" experience? I can think of a few ND sliding door experiences...like when we were sorting at the exchange, and you found that full-body bright orange spandex suit in your size? You still wear that, right? : )

Kimberlee said...

Hey, that was MY orange spandex suit. Be careful what you say...