May 3, 2010

The Destiny Of Small Things


I don't believe in destiny.

Well, let me rephrase. I believe that you make your own destiny. I don't believe in fate, or soul mates, or any of those other things that the universe supposedly decides for you. Except maybe karma.

But sometimes I get the distinct - and, not believing in destiny, slightly unnerving - feeling that something that happened was meant to happen. Nothing monumental or life changing, but something small that seemed "planned" nonetheless.

Today I went to dinner at some friends' house, and took the metro home by myself around midnight. I decided to take the line I don't usually take, which  is faster late at night, but with which I'm also less familiar in terms of the order of the stations. I got distracted, reading my book, and when I looked up we were stopped at La Latina. I looked at the metro map and realize that La Latina is the stop after where I was supposed to get off, so I jumped up and ran off the train, just in time to see the doors close right behind me, barely letting me off in time.


Until I looked at the metro map again, and realize that I had read it backwards, and I actually just got off at the stop before. This wouldn't have been a big deal - I just needed to wait for the next train - if it hadn't been twelve-fifteen at night, when the trains run every fifteen minutes. So I got out my book, and begrudgingly resigned myself to waiting out my quarter of an hour on the subway platform with Tess of the d'Ubervilles. Needless to say, I was more than a bit annoyed at myself for being so skittish and not taking the time to use my head. I knew La Latina was before Opera, but in the moment I obviously hadn't known it well enough.

When the train finally came, thirteen minutes later, I got on,  and a girl, probably between fifteen- or twenty-years-old limped onto the train and sat in front of me. She looked exhausted, and as the train pulled out of the station, she carefully put one foot up on her knee and took off her ballet flat, which is when I see that she had a huge, bloody blister on her heel.

To all the shoe-loving women out there, how many times has this happened to you? You get a new pair of shoes, cockily think all will be fine, wear them out all evening, and finish off the night in misery, limping home and swearing off cute shoes for life. Being the suffer-for-my-shoes gal that I am, my heart went out to this poor girl. So I asked her if she wanted something for her foot, half expecting her to refuse, and be weirded out by a stranger being friendly at twelve-thirty at night. But she looked up at me and her face melted into a huge smile of relief, and she said, "Oh yes, please! Thank you! They're new, and they hurt so much!" So I took a couple of band-aids out of my bag and gave them to her. Which I guess was also good foresight, because she had another equally painful-looking blister on the other foot, and I'm sure she was thankful for the second band-aid, too.

Let me specify that although I am one of those people with a little hold-everything pouch in my purse with chapstick, a compact, baby wipes and other non-essential, non-daily-use things that are still so great to have in your purse when you really need them, I'm pretty bad about being stocked with band-aids. I almost never have them in my purse or wallet, even as a shoe aficionado who often gets vanity blisters. But last week I got a new pair of sandals, and although they're super comfy now, when I wore them on Friday they needed some definite breaking in, at the cost of a couple of blisters. So I picked up some band-aids and put some in my wallet, so that if I wore them again, I would be prepared. If I had seen this girl on the metro a week ago, or if Friday it had been a little cooler and I hadn't worn my new shoes, I wouldn't have had any band-aids to offer her.

I don't know, maybe it's stupid, but I got this sort of lingering feeling that although it sucked that I got off at the wrong station, and it took me an extra twenty minutes to get home, it was sort of meant to happen, so that I could give that poor blistered girl some band-aids for her poor blistered feet. And she was so unbelievably grateful, and it made me so happy that I was able to help her, even with such a small, insignificant good deed, that it made getting off the train at the wrong station worth it. I just wish a friendly stranger had been there to dispense band-aids every time I stupidly left the house in new shoes without any!

Have you done any small good deeds recently?
or better yet,
Do you believe in destiny?


Sam Liu said...

I, being the rationalist sceptic that I am, do not believe in fate or destiny. However, there have been those little moments where I've thought - this is too strange to be a coincidence. My logical mind tells me to not think such things, but I suppose everyone, no matter how rational they are, has moments where they begin to doubt their own ascertains.

This is a very moving story, Julia and so very true. It is the small acts of kindness that restore one's faith in humanity. I think it's something we should all strive to do. We can't have a dramatic impact on this world, we can't solve everyone's problems, but I think just helping one person out in their time of need, even if it is seemingly insignificant, is a wonderful feat.

Mrs. Dontje said...

uggh is it weird that your story about the metro made me miss madrid? there is an excellent indian restaurant in la latina. actually tons of great restaurants in that area.

leigh ashley said...

i think i do believe in destiny. maybe. i believe in divine intervention... that things definitely happen for a reason. like me meeting you! :)

Johana Hill said...

I believe everything happens for a reason, even if you're never aware of the reason (most of the time).

Julia said...

I believe that things happen for a reason. That you were there with bandaids for that girl, was more than a coincidence. I love your story.

And I love the dress you made. You're quite talented!

Cole said...

You are so sweet to help her out. This is a very good question. I believe that God created all of us with special gifts and talents but we all have the freedom to choose whether or not we want to use them or waste them. I believe that good things happen and bad things happen and its up to us how react to life. I think there are predestined occurences, but again we have to choose to respond to them or not.

Blair said...

Kind of you to dole out of bandaids. Blister fairy godmother. God save louboutins though, a woman can really conquer in those S.O.B.'s if need be.

Anasthaesium said...

i believe exactly the same Julia, that you make your own luck. But I do believe in Karma and in fact it leads you to shape your own destiny! :)

LiLu said...

I absolutely believe that was meant to happen. {heartwarm}

Whitney said...

I loved this story!

I don't really believe in destiny. I'd like to but I'm just a bit bitter and cynical.

However, I do believe that the universe does give you certain necessary tools and situations when you need them the most.

I have a few different stories when I've felt really depressed and upset about something and randomly out of nowhere a friend will call and just want to come over and hang out or the teacher I work with will decide to plan a field trip. Something small and out of the ordinary that always helps me get out of my rut.

I'm not sure if this is destiny or everything happening for a reason. Whatever it is, I appreciate it when it does happen.

JP said...

First off... if you actually own those shoes in the picture I may bow down and worship you...

Secondly... I try to help out people when I can... car stuck in the snow and I have time... I'll hop out and help push them out... ditto with the changing a tire kinda thing.

Finally... yeah I kinda do believe in karma... do good things in your life and it'll come back to you... makes no sense I know... but you know who cares.

Cole said...

Julia I'm having a giveaway this week. It's a different type of giveaway. And after reading your story you should definitely enter. Check it out :)

Keenie Beanie said...

I believe you make your own destiny.

I believe that things have a way of working out - just not always like one plans.

I believe in serendipity.

I believe karma is a b*tch.