Photo by Lisa Tate
Random is the instant a horse at full speed
has all four hooves off the ground.
This is the original meaning of the word. It refers to the mystery of unbridled passion, to the lift that results from total immersion and surrender. In our age, however, random means without design, method, or purpose. It refers to utter chance. It helps us dismiss whatever appears to be beyond the control of our will. If we didn’t author it, it must be accidental.
Yet our lives are full of unexpected surges of kindness that seem to come from nowhere. Just when you’re thirsty, a cup is gathered and passed around. Just when you are lonely to the point of snapping that bone way inside that you show no one, someone offers you a ride or steadies the grocery bag about to drop from your grip. Just when you feel nothing can raise your sad head from the lonely road, the deer stutter across the road in exact rhythm with Handel.
So what might we learn from the horse at random? Consider how all of its energy and desire mounts for the brief moment it inhabits itself fully, and in that moment, it flies. Only to touch down again. And to fly again. And touch down again. For us, the moment at random is the moment of holding nothing back, of giving our all to whatever situation is before us. In that charged moment, we come as close to flying as human beings can—we soar briefly with a passion for life that brings everything within us to meet our daily word.
I experienced this again and again in the many hospital beds I lay flat in while going through cancer. When I could hold nothing back—not tears, not pain, not frustration or anger—I found myself at random, off the ground, though I couldn’t get off the bed. And remarkably, it put me in the flow of the lives around me.
For just as pain in the body signals other cells to flood the injured area, our honest experience lived at random calls other lives to our aid. Just as blood flows from healthy parts of the body to those that are injured without either part knowing they will meet, so too in the Universal body. We flow to each other’s aid, often without knowing where we are headed. Mysteriously, the life force heals itself this way. And what we call “chance” or “luck” or “coincidence” is the circulation of life healing itself through us and in us.
- Do one thing at random today.
- If a patch of sun catches your eye, hold nothing back. Go stand in it and raise your face to the sky.
- If you’re caught in the rain, open yourself to it, however briefly.
- If you hear live music on the street, seek it out and listen quietly for a moment.
- If you see something beautiful, smile slowly. If it still seems beautiful, allow yourself to laugh that you have the privilege to see it twice.
- Hold nothing back. Allow what touches you to change your path.
~Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening