Friday, April 13, 2012

Embracing the Inevitable II

Scott Bradley


In the previous post I identified the inevitable with death, and this is its purest form. By this, I mean that death is inevitable in that not only can nothing be done about it, but also because nothing could have been done about it. But there is also a more contingent form of the inevitable, and that is those situations which could have been avoided and yet are presently unavoidable.

I was once caught in a hurricane (Delta) with winds so fierce that my boat, though under bare-poles, was repeatedly knocked on its "beam-ends" and held there for seemingly endless minutes. The cockpit filled and about 2 inches of companionway sill remained before the boat filled and foundered and I faced near certain death. I was not secured to the boat and hung near vertical to a "boom-gallows" support. I'd been blown out of my anchorage next to a volcanic island in the Canaries in the dead of night and through a narrow slot between two islands where the venturi effect was incredible. There were reefs about, but I could see nothing in a moonless night filled with volcanic pumice. Lines had fouled my prop; I had no steerage way. Sail would have foundered me for sure. I survived.

All of this was avoidable. I could have obtained a better weather report in Gibraltar from which I had left the week before and from which I had only just arrived. Etc. Yet here I was faced with a situation over which I had no power to change. I could only accept the present situation as contingently inevitable and do my best to survive. No cursing of the pathetic weather report I had had, nor of all the personal stupidities that had put me in this situation, would be of any use in helping me survive. I had to accept things as they were and deal with them accordingly.

This is perhaps a too dramatic example of the kinds of inevitability we face every day. Last night it snowed and put in jeopardy my premature attempts at a vegetable garden. Shall I curse the weather? Or should I "follow along with the rightness of the present 'this'"? Someone disses me. Should I diss them back? Or should I find here an opportunity to learn what it is to have no one dissable?

Embracing the inevitable, whether absolute or contingent, is, above all else, a means to finding peace in the acceptance of every eventuality. And that counts for something, however momentary and contingent that something may be.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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