There’s an old adage that, despite any number of subtle phonetic variations which have been applied or discarded over time, essentially amounts to the following: If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.
One’s own theological convictions notwithstanding, it remains a strikingly eloquent encapsulation of the wildly unpredictable and nearly incomprehensible nature of the relationship between ourselves and the concept of the lives we’re expected to navigate day to day.
While we are, by nature, social creatures, we’re also considerably insular in our perception of the world as it moves around us. With every living person being unique down to the molecule, perception is wildly varied. My disaster might be your regular Tuesday. The best day of your life could be meaningless in my scope of things.
But in the case of developing our own determinations of other people and the lives they create for themselves, most become conveniently and selectively forgetful of the litany of variables that influence the progress of the individual worlds we carry within ourselves.
Much is made of intent, as well as general effort, as linchpins for the successful directing of one’s own journey in life. The word “lazy” gets thrown around a lot as it’s a simple enough explanation for the struggles of others, and perhaps most significantly, it requires very little in the way of critical thought or basic human empathy in getting across.
Many people, particularly those in positions of power and those who have attained success – tend to view society as a meritocracy. That is to say that so long as one’s intentions are noble enough, and so long as one is willing to navigate enough resistance in the attaining of their goals, that the accomplishment of literally anything is indeed plausible.
Another convenient philosophical nugget that, taken on its own, looks to be a catch-all solution for the world’s problems. What this thinking fails to consider, however, is the elements of darkness and unpredictability that manifest themselves to varying degrees in all walks of life.
One could argue that each of us, no matter how established or successful, is a wrong decision or two away from unmitigated catastrophe.
The ego relishes in laying claim to our successes, while the natural reaction to failure or misfire is to dismiss the results as the universe throwing a curveball. In truth, it could be argued that even our greatest successes and the culmination of effort into results are just as much a part of the arbitrary process of selection by forces greater than ourselves as is a freak accident or well-placed lightning strike, which could be one and the same on a particularly capricious afternoon.
It’s far from difficult for those dealing only with the resistance of shallow waters to cast judgment upon those struggling to swim at all. But this isn’t a pool and there is no universal equity – life is not equally kind or cruel to each person living it.
In truth, life is much more akin to an ocean. We feel some semblance of control in looking from the beach, and even wading in. But anyone who’s gone out more than a couple hundred yards can attest to the fact that the waters can take full control at any given second.
Even going in with a plan, even going in support, it’s easy to be knocked down, it’s easy to be separated, it’s easy to be isolated and – certainly in the context of relationships – it’s easy to be forgotten.
Gaze not from the safety of land at those caught in the depths, wondering aloud through which idiosyncratic faults and easily avoidable missteps they wound up so far from where they’re supposed to be.
Should one be unable or unwilling to offer help, one would do well to keep their condemnations to themselves as well.