It’s the sort of question every novel asks. How come those two young radio announcers made that call taken by that nurse on that day? How do fate and intention combine in this particular situation?
My friend Fiona Stager at Avid Reader suggested a marvellous book to me recently called Wonder by RJ Palacio which we are reading in our family and which I’d suggest to anyone who can read a book.
My ten year old likes that August, the book’s main character, who is also ten, is very funny, making jokes with his dad about the principal of the school he’s about to attend, who is called Mr Tushman – August’s dad had a teacher called Miss Butt – you can see where that’s going. Fiona liked that we see August’s world from a number of perspectives important to him. I liked the perfect combination of fate and intention that is August’s life.
August was born with health problems and severe facial abnormalities. He's about to go to school for the first time. This unsentimental story has much to teach us about the random aspects of our lives, and about kindness, a choice we always have but don't always make.
Sometimes (especially in novels) life deals a shark attack or a train crash; you’re going in one direction, to one place, and then you’re not. You’re going somewhere else. That's what's happened to a number of people this week. My friend Kim Wilkins talks about the Old English Wyrd, which is not really fate and it’s not really faith. Wyrd, she tells me, is like the tapestry that results from fate and intention. If you're weaving, you don't control the vertical strands on the loom – they’re given and they're random. But you can control what you weave, the tapestry of your life.
I have read a lot this week about what might have prevented a nurse and mother of two teenaged children from killing herself, everything from resilience training to better rules for hoax calls. And I’ve read an awful lot of what we as humans do so well, the search for answers through blaming.
I don't often quote the Dalai Lama but I do like some of the things he says. “Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”