Everybody dies, some people more than others.
If I have learned only one thing in all of my many, many, dear sweet oblivion so damn many years, it would be that.
If I have learned only two things in all of my many, many, dear sweet oblivion so damn many years, the first thing would be that everyone dies, some people more than others, and the second thing would be that destiny is not the set in stone affair we think it is.
It’s no coincidence that the term destiny and destination sound so similar. Or perhaps it is. I can’t remember how the two words originated (it was a very long time ago), but I’m pretty sure they’re related. People tend to think of destiny as being an incontrovertible path to a set conclusion, like a train on tracks (you cannot appreciate how wonderful it is to have the train analogy. It used to be difficult to explain this kind of abstract concept in concrete terms). You’re the train, you’re heading from New York to San Francisco. Your destination is set. What’s more, your path is set. You cannot go off the rails. You will always pass through Chicago. You will always pass through Omaha and you have no choice but to take that winding path through the Rockies. If you ask your average person about destiny, that’s what they’ll tell you. Bad things, good things? These are all specific, unavoidable stops on the road to your cosmic San Francisco.
I say that’s bunk. Destiny may be destination, but it is no train. It is a destination like the family farm in Kentucky is a destination, but your car breaks down in Clarksdale and by the time it gets fixed, you have eight hours to make the six hundred mile drive back home or you won’t have time to shower and shave before work on Monday.
Better still, destiny is a servant carrying a rimless plate of grapes to an angry, obsessive-compulsive king. He howls all day for a plate of pre-plucked grapes whose total is the sum of two prime numbers. Our hungry king is the destination the universe has in mind for us. Destiny is the servant rushing down twisting stone corridors with a precarious grape stack and a desire to keep his head on his shoulders. And we—you, me, everyone we know and don’t know—we’re grapes rolling wildly across this wobbling surface. Destiny has a plan for us. He personally plucked us all from the vine and placed us upon this platter with the intent of feeding us to the mad monarch. But as free roaming grapes, we’re constantly slipping and sliding, threatening to fall off of this plate. It is destiny’s job to catch us when we fall, brush off the dust when we roll onto the floor, and to run back to the kitchen for a replacement or at least eat a few grapes until it’s the sum of two primes again when one of us gets squished by some bumbling knight. There is no promise that any of us will reach the king. There is only the promise that at some point, the king will get his thirty-one grapes.
After countless millennia dying and returning to life, I still have no idea why I can’t stay dead or why it’s happening to me specifically, still no sense of purpose or direction. It’s taken thousands of years, but I have finally come to the conclusion that I am a replacement grape, but where I’m headed or what our metaphorical king represents I do not know. All I know is destiny is making damn sure I won’t fall off this platter, no matter how hard I try.