Luck, coincidence and shooting stars

It’s a common esoteric trope that all the decisions you make, big and small, lead to where you are, and that even one small change could lead to a drastic difference in our lives. Some people call this the sliding doors effect, after a 1998 movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah in which two versions of a life are narrated: one in which Paltrow’s character makes her train, and one in which she misses it.

I saw a shooting star a couple of days ago. Not the one at the top of this post; that’s just something I found on a free photo site to accompany the text here.

It was about 5:20 a.m., and just as I turned onto the street while walking the dog, I saw it streak across the sky, a blue tail, and then it disappeared. It was framed, perfectly centered, between the two houses at the top of cul-de-sac at the end of the street. It was beautiful, and unexpected.

I immediately thought of the sliding doors effect. All the different choices I had made that morning allowed me to see that shooting star. I set my alarm for 5:02 a.m., intending to get to the gym by 6:00 so that I could come home, do a couple of things and get to work on time. But my daughter woke up at 4:55 and needed some snuggles, so I was out of bed just a few minutes before I had planned.

Normally, I wait for the Keurig to warm up and make a cup of coffee with collagen peptides, but I decided on an energy drink instead. I filled two water bottles to make sure they were cold when I got back; typically I would have done that the night before. I woke up the pup, gave her some love and a little stretch time, then clipped on the leash and wandered out the door.

She sniffed around the bushes at the front of the house; we’ve had some cats spending their nights sleeping there — generally it’s safe from predators and we always have plenty of anoles running around for a midnight snack. Then she followed a trail down the lawn, paused by the mailbox to take care of some business, and then we were able to proceed on our walk, turning left just in time to see the shooting star.

How many of those must I have not seen because I made coffee or the pupper sniffed a little longer or I slept until my alarm instead of getting out of bed a few minutes earlier?

***

Shooting stars are, of course, not stars. They are space debris burning up in the atmosphere, leaving a trail of dust that forms a visible contrail. As they’re falling, they’re called meteors. If any of the debris hits the ground, it becomes a meteorite.

In many cultures, shooting stars are a sign of luck, or of impending change. In other cultures, they are bad omens.

Either way, shooting stars are beautiful, but fleeting.

Here’s what was really weird about the morning. I got in the car to go to the gym, and, not enamored with whatever low-energy interview was going on just before 6 a.m. on a Sunday on the last radio station I had been listening to, I switched to the local classic rock station (broadcast locally; I’m sure it’s controlled from elsewhere). What song had just started? “Shooting Star” by Bad Company.

I wouldn’t even have thought to lie about that.

It’s a song about a kid who gets a guitar, becomes a big rock star, then dies in his bed with whiskey and sleeping pills nearby. A shooting star — it puts on a big show for a brief time, then poof!, it’s gone.

***

I’m not much for signs, or omens, or whatever. But I’m into urges. Sometimes they come to encourage us to do something we should be doing. Sometimes they come to encourage us to flex our will power muscles.

The urge that came after I saw that shooting star this morning, was to formulate a little something for the blog. The urge was reinforced by Bad Company.

Perhaps, then, I’ll be back here more often for a while. I need to flex that writing muscle.

what are the things in your life telling you?

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