The unexpected twists and turns of life.

Life is a journey that we all embark upon, we make plans in the form of road maps to outline our steps and to fix our eyes on the horizon. We plan a year, a few, and even five years ahead with meticulous details, we cross our I’s and dot our T’s. And then we preserved them mentally, sometimes laminated them on paper and called them our future or master plans. Although our journey on the road of life is in need of a road map with road signs in order to guide us toward our purpose, we’ve to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for the twists and turns in life that is not depicted on our own self-designed road maps. The road of life is never a smooth and straight path that flows uninterruptedly into our awaited destiny. Sometimes life takes us on unexpected paths that we were not prepared for, unknown paths that nullify even the best details plans and render our road maps of life useless. When Nelson Mandela was drafting his life plans, he couldn’t have calculated being chained to twenty-seven years of uncertainties within the unjust bars of apartheid. His road map of life was dismantled, his career as a lawyer shattered and his plans and duties as a father and husband were no longer in touch with his reality as a prisoner. But the unexpected twists and turns of Mandela’s life didn’t end in the pain of chains, his chains were transformed into a presidential reign over a country that apartheid had once reigned. He neither planned to be in chains nor his presidential reign, but life had its own master plan for him that was not aligned with his own plans.

We set our plans in motion to meet a future that’s unborn, events that are unformed, and forces that are unknown. But sometimes our myopic visions of life are unable to foresee unintended paths that we will take, people that we will meet on these paths that will alter our view on life, and events that will force us to change how we live our lives. A year ago the world was busy making future, wedding, travel, and business plans; athletes were busy training for the upcoming 2020 Olympics and Wall street was busy placing bets on the future. But then life gave birth to an unexpected reality that forced us to halt almost all movements, even the motion of our plans stood still in the face of this pandemic. However, there are times when the unexpected twists and turns of life can be fortuitous and even work out better for us than our own devised master plans; but there are also times when life forced us to sit back while it unfolds its own master plans upon our lives. Here I will paraphrase a Buddhist story that I once read which illustrated the effects of life’s unexpected twists and turns: Once there was a wise man who had a horse that ran away. “Sorry for the bad news,” said his neighbor. “Who knows what’s good, who knows what’s bad,” replied the wise man. About a few days later the horse returned with two other horses, ” glad to hear the good news,” said his neighbor. The wise man replied,” who knows what’s good, who knows what’s bad.” One day while riding on one of the horses that had returned with the horse that had run away, the wise man’s son fell and broke his leg. ” sorry for the bad news” said the neighbor. “who knows what’s good, who knows what’s bad,” replied the wise man. It so happened that one day a general came to the region where the wise man lived to enlist the young men of that town in his army but when he saw that the wise man’s son leg was broken, he overlooked him and didn’t enlist him in his army. “glad to hear the good news,” said the neighbor. ” who knows what’s good, who knows what’s bad,” replied the wise man. Yes, we should plan, yes, we should extend our hopes into the unknown … unborn future; after all, planning is as natural to the mind as breathing is to the lungs. But we should also realize that our plans are only a few droplets in the ocean of infinite possibilities, which has a current that is strong enough to wash us on shores that we don’t even know exist.  

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