The interesting thing about that is I actually care more about love than about sex, though I rarely seem to write about love.
I went to visit her on the bus. There's a bus service called BoltBus that travels between Portland and Vancouver, you see, and it's really cheap to take.
They have this bizarre pricing structure where the first seat on a particular bus sells for a dollar, and the next few seats sell for eight dollars, and the next few seats sell for fifteen, or something like that. What it means is if you plan well ahead, and you are willing to sit there and click Refresh on their Web site over and over, you can sometimes travel for next to nothing.
Plus, their buses are black and orange, which is kinda cool.
On the bus ride up, there was a pretty girl with a blond pony tail seated to my right. She spent almost the entire trip texting someone on her cell phone. Ahead of me, two bearded geeks in glasses talked excitedly about Python on Linux.
We stopped in Seattle to pay homage to the monument of the Dalek god and drink coffee. Yes, there is a monument to the God of the Daleks in downtown Seattle. No, I don't know why it's there. It looks like this:
I don't drink coffee, so I sipped my hot chocolate, given to me by a surly Starbucks employee, and contemplated the fact that these people I was sharing the bus trip with--the girl glued to her cell phone and the geeky Linux programmers rhapsodizing over Python's, like, total readability--had crossed paths with me in a tiny, insignificant way, and that I would quite likely never see any of them again for as long as we all lived.
For a brief second, the threads of our lives almost touched, before they spun off in their various directions once more.
Statistically speaking, the odds that I would cross paths with any of them were vanishingly small. If you were to start some kind of probability assessment going form the moments of our separate births, the odds that we four should ever be in the same space at the same time would be incredibly low.
And yet, we did intersect for that short while.
Which started me to thinking about love.
Statistically speaking, the odds that I will meet, much less fall in love with, any given person are also incredibly low. Each connection we make is statistically improbable, the result of a long gossamer thread of chance, decisions, fortuitous happenings, heartbreak, and all the other things that make us take the path we do. A death in the family, a different choice of college, a different career, a phone call from a childhood friend, a flat tire, any of a thousand things could have altered the decisions any of us made that led us to be on that bus at that time. The breathtaking confluence of life paths, events, and choices that led to us all being there is as fragile as it is amazing.
That's kind of how it is with love.
For any two particular people, chosen at random, to become entwined in each other's lives in such an intimate way as falling in love requires a statistically improbable chain of events, any one of which could cause the connection to fail altogether. The person you love most in all the world might, with just a few tiny differences in life path, be living a life almost indistinguishable from the one that brought you together--and yet you would be strangers.
It might sound like I'm saying that love is an incredibly rare thing, but it's not. Opportunities for it are all around us; the possibility of love is abundant. But each individual connection, each set of circumstances that leads to any two specific people falling in love--that is a rare and delicate thing.
It might seem like those two ideas--that love is abundant and that connections between any two people are rare and improbable--are contradictory, but they're not.
Think about a casino. Imagine walking into a casino and, with the snap of your fingers, freezing everything inside. If you were to look at every hand of cards in play, the arrangement of every card in the blackjack shoes, the position of every ball on every roulette wheel, the odds of seeing that exact configuration are so remote that you could set up casinos just like it all over the universe and let them all run from now until the stars burn out, and you'd never see that configuration again.
And yet, there it is.
In a world of seven billion people, opportunities for love are everywhere; but that doesn't change the fact that the odds of meeting and falling in love with any one specific person are vanishingly tiny, the connection between two individuals spun from the slenderest of threads.
Those slender threads can make a huge difference. Those threads change our lives. They wrap around us until every one of our decisions is made because of them. A chance meeting, that most statistically improbable of connections between two individuals, and their lives suddenly change course in dramatic ways.
A thread like that called me to Portland. Another put me on that bus to Vancouver, where my life intersected ever so briefly with the other people on that bus, each of them there because of the sum total of thousands of choices large and small they had made.
There would be people on that bus; the statisticians who design bus routes, the accountants who apportion resources all know it. but each individual person is there as a result of an unbroken line of choices, any one of which could have sent that person somewhere else entirely.
This is the person I was on that bus to see, the thread of connection that altered the course of my life and put me on that bus.
Whenever I think of any of the people I love, I always think about how improbable it was that our lives crossed paths, and how profoundly such an improbable thing has changed me. Yes, if I had made different choices, if they had made different choices, if our lives had not intersected, then we might not be lovers, but I would still have love in my life. I absolutely believe that's true.
It is those threads that have made my life what it is right now. It is those improbable connections, those fine threads of chance and choice, that brought me here, and that led to me writing the words you're reading right now.
I like who I am. I like being where I am. I have, in large part, all those people who I love, all the delicate lines of chance and choice that brought us together, to thank for that.
I am profoundly grateful for every person who has touched my life in this way. I am profoundly grateful for every one of those connections, for every person I have ever loved and who has ever loved me. From tiny, delicate threads, entire lives are woven. For all the people who have helped me weave mine: Thank you.