1. proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern: the random selection of numbers.
2. Statistics . of or characterizing a process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal probability of being chosen.
3. Building Trades .
a. (of building materials) lacking uniformity of dimensions: random shingles.
b. (of ashlar) laid without continuous courses.
c. constructed or applied without regularity: random bond.
4. Chiefly British . bank3 ( def. 7b ) .
5. Building Trades . without uniformity: random-sized slates.
6. at random, without definite aim, purpose, method, or adherence to a prior arrangement; in a haphazard way: Contestants were chosen at random from the studio audience.
This week's word of the week is random. Geez, how the hail am I supposed to use that in a new way? I already have a random thoughts post that I churn out randomly (in keeping with the definition). I already pepper my speech with randoms, even when I don't actually mean it was random per se. I really mean it was unexpected or strange.
But then I remembered, I just watched Creation this weekend. That movie with Paul Bettany (swoon) about Charles Darwin. It's not what I thought it would be about, less about the science and more about Darwin's emotional and philosophical struggles when writing Origin of the Species. It was excellent, anyway, I mean Paul Bettany (swoon). 'Nuf said.
But the film has had me thinking about life lately. How up until 150 or so years ago (that rhymed. hehe), destiny was the name of the game. Darwin changed all the rules. Forget about killing god, or whatever, what it came down to was fate, destiny, a plan, versus the random. And for the last century and a half, it's been two camps: religion vs science. Yes? Still with me?
(Oh dear, I fear this post is turning into something frighteningly esoteric and maybe even a little preachy. Sorry about that. I'll try to make my point quickly. Also: I won't pretend to be a Darwinian expert. Just go read about him yourself.)
But religion is just a code word for the comfort of a plan. I'm not knocking that. It's appealing. We all know I don't believe in a god. But it's not about god, really. Whatever your beliefs, I commend you for sticking to them, but I can bet they contain some element of a plan. It's about not feeling alone in the universe. We as humans have a consistent need to feel safely on a preset path. Whether by god or gods or stars or simply fate or destiny.
(Here is where the believers start condemning my soul to hell. I know. I spent 9 years in a Christian school. And here is where I say: hey, if there is a god, color me corrected. But I prefer to live my way.)
Instead of randomly banging around the universe without any known course other than survival.
What's interesting is that I don't find the latter all that scary. I find destiny scary. I find the idea that everything is laid out before me and I need to read the signs or make the right decisions in order to stay on the "right path." Or whatever. The idea that my choices mean nothing other than deviating from my set destiny disturbs me. Makes me feel imprisoned.
Maybe it's my rebellious spirit, but I've always been drawn to ideas that color outside the lines. To birds outside of cages. To animals outside of zoos.
I like the idea of randomness. I like the idea that my choices mean something. That every step I take makes a change in whatever path I choose. That survival is the one major rule. That maybe survival includes societal mores or normatives, but that's what we work around. I like the connectivity of species and each generation of life affecting the next. I like to think that humans aren't preordained to survive on this rock, but each choice we make changes the next and the next and the next.
I've lived my life in that way, I suppose. On some level, I've bounced around, taking life, as random as it is, as it comes. When I feel the need for change, I decide to change. My personality be damned. I'm organized. Anal retentive. Detail oriented. I should like the set path. No random variables. No haphazard life for me. Right? Bullshit. I'm a complicated being. I'm changeable and moody. I like my clothes organized and my life a series of random events. I chart my own course and I'll deviate at will.
Who I was 10 years ago is not who I am today and who am I today is not who I'll be 10 years from now.
And who's to say that I'm making my own path? That I'm, as Nelson Mandela put it, the master of my fate, the captain of my soul? Who is to say? There's no way to really know. But I like the idea very much.
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