A life is an endless chain of perhaps.
Perhaps — had I followed that scent down the dark alley — I would have met the primordial seductress and we would have wrestled lovingly amid the garbage cans and refuse until our bodies were shrunken vestiges of their former selves. Perhaps I would have passed through to the other side, broken through the chains that bound me and come out a more extreme version of myself.
Perhaps – twenty-five years ago – had I continued down the dirt road instead of jumping on the passing freight train, I would have taken a path that would have lead straight (as straight as any path can be, which isn’t very) to a life so unlike mine today that I would not recognize it.
Perhaps – had I followed that woman in harem pants who was burning herself into my memory as she got off the colectivo in Recoleta on that Sunday afternoon long ago – I would have traveled to distant lands in her arms and become something very different.
Or maybe not.
No one can live in the World of Perhaps. You must take your leap and make the impossible choice. No doubt the choice to jump on the freight train changed my life forever, just as the choice to continue scuffling down that dirt road would have lead elsewhere. I chose one way and not the other and here I am.
But though the choices are many, they always come down to two alternatives: the safe and the unknown. We have to make the choice between two things we don’t know. We can never know the full consequences of our choices because those choices are living, breathing things that set us on paths we are still discovering.
We are travelers, always travelers.
But along our travels, there are turning points. Doors swing open briefly at unexpected times. You must choose at a moment’s notice. (It doesn’t help that your entire future lies in the balance.) However, if you trust your instincts and the universal guiding force, I believe you will make the right choice.
Choosing the unknown is a strange and rigorous discipline. You must embrace the uncertainty and offer oneself to the mischievous hand of destiny.
It is also, I am certain, the surest way to get where you were meant to go. Charting a course through life might work for some, but it does not work for me. I trust that I will get to far more interesting places, far more truer places, if I let the world and all that is unknown, guide me.
I believe I have a destiny. One day it will come and find me.
Perhaps it already has.