Friday, February 11, 2011

If fate isn't completely in your hands--then who is adjusting it for you?

“A bunch of people got out of the car and just ran up to his car and shot it up. I was supposed to be in that car, but my brother made me go with him instead.”

Tears flooded my eyes as Anthony Mackie described a time in his life when someone else altered his destiny—when someone else adjusted what could have been his plan…when someone else saved his life. Mackie, who plays Harry, one of the main characters in the soon-to-be-released Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon, attended the free pre-screening last night at the Lincoln Center, and stayed after to do a Q and A that really made me think…what is fate? Who controls it? And who altars us on a consistent basis?

The film, which focuses on the idea that there is a team of people hiding in our closets, sitting across tables at the library from us, and in cooking in the kitchens of restaurants readjusting our plans each day, putting us back on track, and making sure that chance doesn’t throw the world completely out of wack, that one person doesn’t send the world into an endless black hole. In the movie, the team appears to be the people who control who you are supposed to meet, when you will die, and what your future career will be.

But Mackie was asked an interesting question following the film.

“Who is your adjustment bureau?”

That’s when Mackie told his heartbreaking story—the one that gave his answer—“My brother.”

His story is similar to another one I know of. A story where I should have been in a car that got into a pretty awful accident when I was a junior in high school. The day after my junior prom I was supposed to ride in the car to an amusement park with a friend. We were going to be late to meet our friends because we had been stuck taking the SAT’s while they were going on every rollercoaster in the park. I decided that my motion sickness issue wasn’t going to magically go away that day and told my friend to go onto the park without me. That night, he got into a bad car accident where his car spun off the highway. He was okay, but his car wasn’t. Who knows what would have happened had I been in one of the passenger seats.

And that’s when my mind really started going.

I began thinking about all the times my life could have gone another way—all the times I could have made one decision, but, instead, made another. I started thinking about the people that matter. I started thinking about what my life has become and who has adjusted it—who has made it what it is.

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. In fact, I am a strong believer that there isn’t a team of people hiding in our closets, our libraries, our kitchens with a book that has a written plan in it. I believe that we often make decisions that create an illusion that something did indeed happen for a reason.

But I do believe that there are people that matter—that mean something—that say things—that treat us in a certain way—that adjust our lives to occur in a certain pattern—in a certain line—in a certain arc like that of a character in a movie or a book.

For me, those people are my family and my friends...all the people who have had a positive effect on me—all the people who have shown me a road to take that I may not have taken otherwise—all the people who showed me that going to Italy meant a great deal—and that coming home meant even more. All those people who reminded me that going through hard times has to happen to recognize good times. My adjustment bureau is in all those people who have ever lended me a hand—or their heart.

Who is your adjustment bureau?

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