A predictable world

image Reading about the tragedies in Japan in Staying Afloat’s beautiful post over at And miles to go before I sleep….  She wrote about how thankful she feels for ordinary miracles now, but she ends by asking, if, like her autistic son, we don’t all ultimately “want a predictable world.”

I don’t know about that.

In terms of predictability, we do and we don't want it. 

If you gave most non-autistic people a choice, they would like SOME variability, some unpredictability.  When we do the same thing over and over, we are less alert; we pay less attention.

When it is friendly, randomness charms and amuses and delights us.  Things pop up in our path, like the strange travel suggestions that are dancing lessons from God (as Kurt Vonnegut wrote), and we call it serendipity and embrace them. 

But when it is fierce, when it is a tsunami, randomness can upset our whole conception of an orderly, governed universe.

I read about a study which showed that people were more creative and innovative after spending a short amount of time talking with someone who disagreed with them, as opposed to those who spent the time with someone who agreed with them.  We may not LIKE the interaction; it may not feel good at the time... but that doesn't mean we don't benefit.

Is that a mashal [parable] for a tsunami?  I don't know.  I don't want it to be.
It would be awful to suggest that Hashem shakes things up to keep us creative, to  keep us on our toes... to keep us paying attention to His creation. 

To me, that mashal is too easy; too reminiscent of the fickle and arbitrary Greek gods.  Nope… it's not that simple at ALL.  But if that is an unintended consequence, then perhaps it is some small good which has come out of this great tragedy.


  1. You've given me what to think about.

    I think the only surprises we want are those that are comfortable for us. Those we need, on the other hand... Many, many people cannot be greatful for the unexpected until long after it has happened.

    My son, and many other autistic children I know, truely cannot stand randomness. They are constantly aware and on edge waiting for the expected to occur- lunch is at 11:30, math after that at 12:15. A fire drill can destroy their day. Even something they like may bother them if it comes at the wrong time of the day.

    I see him as an extreme of myself. I want the world to make sense. For good people to do well. For mothers to see their children grow and marry. When things go off that, I'm not happy.

    Still thinking. May the rest of Adar me joyful.


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