Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Random Universe Does Not a Story Make

 You spend a good deal of time composing story, assembling thoughts about story, editing the stories of other writers, teaching students how to read story the way writers read them, and teaching students how to write stories of their own.

In addition, you spend a good deal of time thinking about ways elements in those worlds connect, play off one another, or paint impressionist landscapes in which the universe seems quite familiar with itself and the things taking place in it.

Small wonder, then, that you are frequently in the midst of some skein of causality, even though you do not believe in such notions as fate or destiny.  Smaller wonder still that when you read in mystery and suspense fiction about a character who holds strong beliefs in interrelatedness of things or, with greater specificity, "There are no coincidences, " you feel a tingle of comfort.

At the back of your mind, there is a lingering suspicion that randomness characterizes the universe, making persons such as yourself the equivalent of dumpster divers, sorting through rubbish, events, and the lingering effects of each of these in , driven, compulsive searches for connection.

A day such as today becomes a sobering-but-necessary to reassure you of your observation that the Universe is more random than not.  Among other things, you received a notice from the company that provided your cat's collar and identification tags, informing you that a cat named Roscoe, a black-and-white SHD (which you understand to mean short-haired domestic) has gone missing, and his owners will appreciate any news leading to his return.

You try to rid yourself of causal thoughts related to Roscoe because these thoughts often lead you to the sad outcome of Roscoe becoming breakfast for a coyote.  You think of your own cat, in particular his nocturnal habits, which keeps him out and about long after midnight.  He, Goldfarb, is well-motivated to return every day, thus habit and a pattern of expectation, which did not node well for the previous cat in your life, Scamper, a more-or-less feral cat, (also SHD) who reappeared with casual regularity over the years, then, with not so much as a farewell, no longer appeared.  At the time of Scamper's residence, you lived in an area with frequent coyote sightings as well as the anecdotal possibility of a bob cat. 

You were informed today that pertinent contact information about you would appear in the print edition of the faculty guide to the University, a notice you'd never got before, and you were reminded that your parking permit would expire in April, also a notice you'd never got before.

An email also became the vehicle for a notice from Salon Du Mont, where such hair as you have is done to, informing you that the corduroy jacket in the courtesy closet, thought to have been yours because you do on occasion wear a corduroy jacket, is in fact not yours.  Salon Dumont nevertheless regrets any inconvenience this may have caused you.

More of a heart tug, however, also came today, when your hair cutter for the past twenty-five years handed you an envelope.  You already knew what was in it, a farewell after the better part of twenty-five years of being trimmed, styled, and even shampooed with a blue shampoo so that your gray hair would appear gray rather than taking on the yellow of some gray hair.

There was the offer in the mail of a free cremation from the Nautilus Society, although you can  find ways to see this offer as not so much random as based on you being in the demographic of individuals who would wish to give some thought to his remains, after, of course, he has finished using them.

An individual you'd never heard of commended your editorial skills on Linked-In today, and a graduate of an acupuncture and Oriental medicine college in Cincinnati wondered if it would be appropriate for her to send you a picture of herself as a way of initiating a conversation.

Some five or six years ago, another cat, possibly feral, took to stopping by your back door at dinner time.  You were quick to describe him as a hobo, a wandering sort whose modus operandi was to offer to do odd jobs for a meal.  You described the cat as willing to tend to the mouse population in return for a decent meal, some fresh water, and a place to sleep.  Liking the cat, you even began a blog under his name.

This cat, Epstein, appeared long enough for you to have written some amusing blog posts as his amanuensis, in which he was in effect rewriting the opening pages of various works of fiction, such as Gatsby and Anna Karenina.

Today, you received a comment on one of his essays, alerting you to a service that would be happy to take on your--in this case Epstein's--essay-writing needs.  

And perhaps to show how the Universe is not so random as you are wont to suspect, you have moments ago received a note thanking you for any efforts you may have made to searching from Roscoe, wanting as well to report he had been reunited with his family.

There is no story in all of this, although there was a time in your full-bore attack on your craft, where you would have taken up the challenge, by trying to suggest a unifying theme for these random events.

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