It’s an age-old question dating back to the beginning of time: is life a series of completely random moments, or a script comprised of purely destined pre-ordainment? What I noticed this week is that perhaps it’s a little of both. After missing my chance to see it in theaters, I watched the movie Patriots Day this week which depicts the terrorist bombing and subsequent heroism surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon. As the end-credits roll the film-makers brilliantly include a series of interviews with several of the real-life characters portrayed by actors in the movie. This in turn led me to wonder about other survivors’ “where are they now” type stories. After a bit of research I stumbled upon the story of James Costello and Krista D’Agostino. James was hanging around the finish line supporting a friend in the race when he was seriously injured in one of the explosions. The blast completely tattered and tore his clothing and as he staggered toward safety he was photographed. The image quickly went viral and became one of many iconic images to surface depicting both the horror and heroism of the day. Following multiple surgeries he would be admitted to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital where during his stay he would meet a traveling nurse on a temporary rotation named Krista D’Agostino who aided in his recovery and nursed him back to health. Their relationship became romantic and the two married in August 2014.
This story could only be real life, because if penned as a fictional script Hollywood would laugh and toss it aside. It’s remarkable how impossible it would seem if it weren’t true, and as such my first notion was this must be evidence of the existence of fate. These two individuals must have been destined by the cosmos long ago to end up meeting under otherwise wild pretenses and ultimately fall in love and marry shortly thereafter. How else could this tale ever occur under such obscure circumstances? But then a second thought struck me: imagine the seemingly random and infinitesimal number of mutually exclusive events which had to occur leading up to their first encounter, just to place James at the scene of the bombing and Krista at the hospital. So many individual interruptions could have cropped up to prevent either party from being present in the exact time and space necessary for the happy ending to ever have its chance. If these many events (and the avoidance of many interruptions) can be considered direct ramifications of the decisions we do or don’t make (and assuming we each have at least a modicum of control over our conscious minds) then perhaps fate alone can’t explain it. Not to get overly philosophical, but the decision I’m making right now to type this (and the decision you’re making right now to read it) has to have some associated impact on what is to transpire for us both. We could both be spending our time doing other things, somewhere else, and it would change the course of “fate” entirely.
What I noticed this week is that if it’s not entirely destiny and it’s not entirely happenstance, then perhaps it’s a little from column A and a little from column B. So while we can (at least to an extent) control our surrounding situations and the locations in which we place ourselves, the control might just end there. From that point on we can only hope for the best that fate and destiny have in store for us once we’re settled in for the moment. And if God’s finger is at the helm of that long and winding span of dominoes, then what we really control in life is who we choose to stand next to as He gives that first little nudge (while we hope and pray we chose someone who can soften our fall when it’s our turn to topple over).