I bike to and from work one of two ways. The decision to go one way or the other is made by the simple act of taking a turn or not. A binary option of avenues. No detectable forethought goes into this turn or lack thereof. I just do or do not turn.
My idea of the life and the universe is that everything is happening as a result of momentum from a giant explosion at the beginning of time. Our actions are decided just as the jar that fell is already broken. Absent deus ex machina, we are watching ourselves take actions that we have decided to take responsibility for but which were already decided. We’re at the theater yelling at the character to not open that door but we know she’s going to open that door and she’s already dead. That’s OK.
I bike to and from work one of two ways (which is really a total of four ways) and I like to imagine that the decision I make not to ride the way that I did the day before, to make that split second decision to turn instead of not, will change the direction of my life, however minutely. Even within one of those four ways to or from work there are slight alterations to the route.
Take a right at 65th then an immediate left on 7th one time and I might make eye contact with a stranger on their porch taking tea or a beer, which might make me feel invigorated and awkward leading me to think about the interaction for the remainder of the ride home. This memory could stay with me for many years and I may see them on the bus a few weeks or months on, seeming familiar but out of context, stare at them too long or ask them a question or forget about them after unsuccessfully trying to pin them down in my list of casual eye contact people.
If I slip up a different street, the one that passes the grocery coop, maybe I think to grab a sixer and some radishes (to clean at the sink, salt at the sink, and eat at the sink). My life changes, if just a little.
I like to think these things as a challenge to my idea that the jar is already broken and the girl is already dead. It’s just as possible that my route rearrangements are just the movements of a scripted character unchangeably walking toward certain doom (presumably an analogue less gruesome than death by the inevitable chainsaw or butcher knife or ax). We are all walking toward certain doom (if the idea of inescapable death at some unknown juncture is your definition of doom as well).
I am not hoping to escape said doom but to express the hope that at least some of my actions are movements outside the written narrative (while still within the general direction). On the way to my certain doom, a level of personal autonomy is appreciated. Whether or not I am truly exercising this autonomy is outside of my knowledge, necessarily. The act of writing about it does no more to solve the query than does the act of turning. But, by the act of turning (or not), I may by multiple iterations try to initiate changes against the life I would have lived locked into the same route.