So much depends between this and that, between being here or somewhere else, between saying one thing or another, between seeing that oncoming truck before you turn or not.
The King James Version has it as “in the twinkling of an eye.”
So I never forgot my dear friend’s lesson, even though we went our separate ways.
I can readily draw up my own list of personal turning points balanced on the edge of a razor blade. I am told I started life that way, as a preemie. (Today, with advances in medicine and technology my entry into the world would be unremarkable.)
Family lore has me being nearly run over by my father in the backyard when I was five or six. Unbeknownst to my dad as he was backing up, I decided to bolt out of the car. Where did I go? Why? We will never know. My dad assumed the worst. My brother ran up the steps to tell Mom, “Dad ran over Paul!”
I was fine.
Whenever the story was retold at the dinner table, Dad would say, “Took ten years off my life.”
And who is to say otherwise?
Some moments get lost in the tides of time, as if they are less significant with the passage of days, months, and years.
The concussive wind of a Manhattan taxicab zooming by as I daydreamed and nearly drifted off the curb.
Falling asleep at the wheel only to be awakened by the tires rumbling on a rough surface.
Decades ago, driving drunk and not remembering it.
Which illustrates the interactive nature of this utter powerlessness. In other words, others are inescapably involved in our seemingly random, remote choices.
Turning blue, choking on meat, only to find the Heimlich maneuver my wife of that time employed didn’t work — until she said “stop fighting me.”
In a blog post years ago, I coined an amusing term for this phenomenon:
or - chasm - n. The immeasurable distance between one choice and another.
I labeled it a noun, but these infinite moments fraught with fruition or finality have their own grammar. They are gerunds and participles and most of all infinitives.
They bear the indelible signature of choice and mystery.
These moments are the “Either/Or” of Soren Kierkegaard, "The Road Not Taken" of Robert Frost.
Name these nano-pinpricks as you see fit: choice, destiny, fate, will, coincidence, providence, or Providence.
You have yours; I have mine.
Attention must be paid.