#fridayflash : the good cog

I understand, you know. I really do. I used to be just like that.

It's easy to blame it on education, but what's education? Just what we decide to tell the youngsters. Look at what we tell them. Work hard and you'll get what you want. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Cause and effect. Everything happens for a reason.

And so people spend their lives all frustrated and heartbroken, because that universe that's supposed to follow the laws of physics so consistently is hard to see on the everyday level. Where's the global harmony in some bastard in a Mercedes cutting you off because he couldn't be bothered to signal or check his mirrors before he changed lanes? Tell the mother who's just lost a child to a swimming accident that everything happens for a reason. Let me know what kind of reaction she gives you.

I was watching a Star Trek re-run one night, like you do, and it got me thinking. From space, the planet Kirk and company were visiting looked beautiful, peaceful — just this grey-green marble floating in the black. But then they sent an away team, and I know it's a running joke, but that no-name redshirt guy dropped so fast you couldn't help but giggle, because they'd beamed right into the middle of a war zone. You know what I mean? Up at the space level, everything's peaceful. Down on the ground and up close, chaos.

And it was clear to me, just like that. If we're going to embrace rational movement, the patterns of the stars and the music of the spheres, we have to embrace the chaos too.

So I got into random things. I started reading my horoscope, not because it had anything to do with where the stars were when I was born, but because I knew it didn't have to do with anything at all. I'd go to the food court at lunch and roll some dice I kept in my pocket to decide which vendor I was going to get a meal from. I'd take a slightly different way home every night.

One night — I remember it was a Tuesday — I packed an overnight bag, and the next night I stayed in one of those "executive" hotels downtown. The ones people are supposed to use if they work late and don't have time to commute out home. I left work at 4:30pm like I always do.

I thought I would just watch TV, but I wound up talking to the concierge — this guy who had immigrated from Iran in the 1970s — and we wound up talking about French New Wave films all night. Maybe that sounds boring to you, but it was fascinating. And it never would have happened if I hadn't booked the room.

We have a rule in my department that we celebrate the birthdays of everyone who's born in the same month at once. We always go to this Chinese buffet in the strip plaza, just because it's the only place we can get to and still get back to work on time. As luck would have it, the food is decent there, and the owners are smart enough to include a lot of non-Chinese food for those who are scared of trying egg rolls. We always finish off with a cake and singing Happy Birthday to all the people whose birthday it is, and then the owners send our manager back to the office with a little bucket of fortune cookies to hand out later in the afternoon.

Most people toss their fortunes into the garbage without reading them, which is such a wasted opportunity. A few people read theirs out loud and then add "in bed!" to the end, to make them funny. And then they try to trade with each other, so that they get the fortune they want. That's even sillier, if you ask me. You can't control random. If you could, it wouldn't be random anymore.

I read mine, and I post it on my cubicle wall until next time, and I think about how it's applicable.

The last birthday lunch was yesterday, and the fortune I got said, "Sometimes you just need to lay on the floor." Well so you do, don't you? So many reasons to lay on the floor. When your back is hurting and you need to straighten it out. When you're playing with a baby, or with toddlers, or with a dog, all those different types of play. When you're trying to decide whether to stucco the ceiling or keep it flat. At the end of yoga class, when it's time to do corpse pose. There's lots of different reasons to lay down on the floor.

And then I thought, what if there are even more reasons?

So I tried it. I spread my coat out first, because the carpet in the office is kind of yucky, and I lay down. I crossed my ankles since I was wearing a skirt that day, and I stared up at the ceiling. I'm probably the first person to see the office from this angle since the carpet was installed.

And I saw it, black against white. The black speckles in the white foam ceiling tiles, I finally got to take a good look at them, and I realised, they're pictures of constellations. Maybe from a different angle from what we can see through a telescope from here on Earth, or maybe from a different millennium, but there they are. And I never even thought to look before. All that order and chaos, all that beauty.

First they called my manager. Then they called security. I think now they're calling the police, and it's such a shame. Everyone who's approached me, I've asked them to try it themselves, see what they're missing out on, and they simply don't want to know. Such a shame.

I'm just doing what the fortune cookie said. Who am I to stand in the way of fate?