So which is it?
Are our lives totally predestined from our first breath? Is every movement and decision we make beyond our control?
Or are we completely at the mercy of luck and timing? Is life just a crap shoot? Is it something in between?
Because, frankly, I can't figure out which it is.
Those people that were injured and died tonight on the 35W bridge collapse - why were they there? We're they supposed to be there? Did God or Fate decide that tonight was the night they were supposed to die?
Or was it random and unplanned? Where one person makes the green light and gets on to 35W five minutes before the person who got stuck on the red. First person makes it across, the other person perishes. Is it just horrible, horrible luck?
Neither one is particularly comforting, and I'm not sure there's a middle ground that makes sense. I just don't understand . . .
I have driven on that bridge thousands of times. I drove on it as recently as last week. I would have probably driven on it more recently, but the construction was a pain and I decided to avoid it. My Uncle drove on it this morning. This morning. I drive on bridges around here all the time - you kind of have to. Minneapolis is surrounded by the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. To get to certain places you have to cross the river on high bridges. When I worked in Eagan, I had to cross the Mendota Bridge to get to and from work. It's longer and higher than the 35W bridge. And I can tell you never once have I ever thought about the structural integrity of the bridge until tonight.
When you drive as much as we Americans do, it's not totally unexpected when someone is killed in an automobile crash. It's horrible. It's tragic. But it's not so bizarre sounding. You control as much as you can when you drive - you buckle your seat belt, you check your mirrors, you use your turn signals, you keep an eye out for potholes and reckless drivers. But what happened tonight - there's nothing you can do for that. It makes me feel so vulnerable and I hate that. I feel exposed. And I feel even more vulnerable and exposed because maybe my life has been predestined for me, or maybe I'm just at Luck's mercy. Either way, I don't feel like I have a whole helluva lot of say.
Maybe our choices are our own, and life just flows from them with a subtle nudge from Fate every now and again. But still, making the choice to drive home from work, or into downtown to watch the Twins play, doesn't seem like it should have the consequences we saw tonight.
Who are we? Why are we here? What happen next? It's those big questions that unsettle me because I know that I won't ever have a definitive answer. I just thank God that I have cable, because I can't watch any more of the local coverage tonight. I'm not going to sleep well.
Tell your loved ones you love them - life is precious and fleeting, and not to be taken for granted.