Understanding Predestination

Not all that burns is driftwood. It might be a bridge. Or oatmeal. I've heard it said that one man's trash is another man's treasure, but I don't believe everything I hear. In fact, one woman's trash is another man's treasure, which is how I came to be in possession of the Sacred Branch you see over there on the right. If you want to believe otherwise, that's fine with me; I'm certainly not going to stand here and argue with your dyslexic mind. What's important right now is the branch's multilayered, wooden personality, and how that might affect its position within the system of coordinates we use to find our way home.

Eight years ago I lived in a small mountain town. This isn't remarkable in and of itself, since there wouldn't have been a town if no one else lived there. What's remarkable is that I had been living right next door to the Sacred Branch, which, if you think about it, can only mean that I was predestined. The Sacred Branch was meant for me, and I for it, because otherwise it would have been tossed into the dumpster by my neighbor, who thought it was just a piece of driftwood she'd found on a beach somewhere in Texas.

But it wasn't, and I told her so as I wrestled it out of her grip. Her husband thought I was trying to poke out his wife's eye, and since he had been a Marine during his time in Viet Nam, I decided to leave town. That wasn't as easy as it might sound, because there's always a lot of stuff in the garage after you've lived in a place for years. Fortunately, their sonwho happened to be living in their garageoffered to take my refrigerator and most of my furniture, so I was able to get out of there more quickly than I might have otherwise.

We drifted from town to town after that, like tumbleweeds in the desert, or cactus, maybe, or some other kind of thing that drifts. I don't mean driftwood, of course. That wouldn't be very appropriate considering how annoyed I was when my neighbor called the Sacred Branch a piece of driftwood just because she didn't understand the concept of predestination. Predestination is just another way of drawing circles and lines on a map, which is what I was doing when it occurred to me that the Sacred Branch has now returned home, residing on my fireplace a mere .73009 miles from the very dumpster that threatened its career eight years ago.

At the time, the idea of calling this our destination would have been absurd, since we were, you know, just leaving. On the other hand, we were coming back; we just didn't know it yet. Therefore, this was our predestination all along, and anyone who says otherwise simply hasn't taken the time to read between the lines and circles that extend, like half-eaten spaghetti, from one point to the next on every map and napkin along the way.

As my great-uncle Herbst so eloquently put it, home is where the heart is, but you can't cook your oatmeal in a wooden skillet.



  1. That's what I keep telling people!!!

  2. Sorry for the comment-publishing delay. Router problems, I think. Still shaky, but working for now.

    But yeah, that's all you can do, really. You tell 'em, they roll their eyes, you tell 'em again, they roll their eyes, you buy 'em books, they . . . well, you know.