I’m convinced the most abundant thing in the universe is irony. That’s why we see so much of it around us. Perhaps it’s even the binding force science has been looking for that holds everything together. At the very least it proves there is a certain sense of humor built into creation.
You see, in anyone’s life, if you are sufficiently obsessed with ferreting out the connections, you can find the paths of causal relationships between otherwise seemingly random occurrences. That is why I have concluded that nothing is a coincidence and there are no accidents. Everything happens because of something else, whether or not we want to term that a reason.
Why I bring this up is something that happened yesterday to remind me, in no uncertain terms, of the complexities of the connections between all of us. As many of you know I speak Chinese. At least, I used to speak it fairly well. Having studied it over 30 years ago and barely ever used it in the past twenty or so I’m pretty rusty when it comes to using any of the things I learned. In fact I’m often amazed at what I recall whenever I hear someone speaking Chinese.
Yesterday an elderly Chinese couple were pulled over to the side of a street blocking the bike lane I use to ride out of my neighborhood on my way to work. The old man flagged me to a stop. In his hand was a hand-drawn map with some of the streets labeled and a path highlighted. The man spoke broken English but it was clear enough that he was looking for a particular street address and was lost.
After determining they they spoke Mandarin, and the two of them getting over the fact that seemingly at random they had come face to face with one of the few Americans in the local area who speaks any Chinese, I provided them with verbal directions while using the map as a reference. As the place they were seeking was less than a quarter mile from where we were, I asked them, in Chinese, to follow me and I showed them to way – which was on my way – to the apartment complex they were seeking.
Afterwards I felt pretty good about helping them out. I mean – it was a darned good thing that I spoke Chinese, right? Even though I’ms less that fluent, remembering what I did helped. And as a result a couple of people who were lost were able to find their way. Figure the odds that we would meet as we did, though.
Then the thought occurred to me, as it usually does because of how my brain is wired as a writer, that I may have studied Chinese for 47 weeks over thirty years ago so that I could give those two people directions. Yes, I have done other things with my knowledge of Chinese over the years, including the job for which I was being trained when I learned it. And if I hadn’t lived and worked halfway around the world I would have never met my ex-wife and my kids would not have been born. But, what if, due to the undeniable presence of irony in the universe, the whole purpose for learning the language of the largest population group of humanity was so that I could give directions to a lost elderly couple.
There is a flaw in my logic, of course. There often is. But it could be something just that silly and humorous.
I’m reminded of a book that Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wrote called Sirens of Titan. As a story ancillary to the actual plot it is revealed that many centuries ago an alien crash landed on Titan many. And being unable to return home he looked for the nearest populated planet, which happened to be Earth. He limped his damaged space craft to Earth and found a primitive species with some potential. He aided humanity in advancing to the point of building large monuments that would provide a signal to his people on another plants to come rescue him. And so, all of human history served as a means for one Alien to, in effect, phone home.
Hey, it could be as simple as that. We over complicate things because we want to feel that our lives have more meaning than they perhaps do. Maybe the purpose in life that I was seeking all this time was served yesterday when I provided directions, in Chinese, to a couple of lost people.
#Chinese #Irony #Coincidence #KurtVonnegutJr #SirensOfTitan