“Welcome Aboard, Mr. Pilgrim,” said the loudspeaker. “Any questions?”
Billy licked his lips, thought a while, inquired at last: “Why me?”
“That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?
“Yes” Billy in fact, had a paperweight in his office which was a blob of polished amber with three ladybugs embedded in it.
“Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”
— Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
Every book is different the second or third time you read it, and when you add a few decades of life experience to the lens they tend to transform into something entirely new. More accurately, we do, even as the book remains the same. Re-reading Slaughterhouse Five as an adult makes the changes in me readily apparent. Perspective is a beautiful thing indeed.
Lately I’ve been saying time flies more than I can ever recall saying it. This whole life is a time warp of emotion and transformation and growth and the occasional sideways slide off the cliff. We do with these things what we will, for we each handle the changes we go through in our own way.
Not everything will make sense, all we have is control over is how we react. Life is complicated in that way. No wonder they needed to write a serenity prayer. It speaks to the common challenge we each face of dealing with our moment in the amber:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
The thing is, all these changes move us along the path. Heck, change is the path. That which does not kill us makes us stronger, makes us better equipped to handle the next thing that comes our way, and the one after that. Resilience is a superpower honed through adversity. We ought to remember that some have it much worse than us, and sure, some have it better too. But we’re all going through something.
So here we are, in the amber of this moment, trying to figure out that evasive why. Maybe Vonnegut had it right all along and there is no why at all. Does that mean we shouldn’t look for purpose? Or simply to stop trying so damned hard and live the best life in the amber that we can muster? We know how it ends, we ought to focus on how it plays out instead.