Catalyst — a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.
A person or thing that precipitates an event.
Fate. It’s a tricky thing. Some say it’s a single destiny your life tends towards regardless of the path taken. Like the infinite gravitational attraction exerted by a black hole, there’s no escaping its wrath. Be it good, or bad, the hinges of its jaws are tough, and breaking loose of its grasp, impossible. Or so that’s what they say.
I think of fate in a different fashion. I like to think of life more as a circle that permeates around us the moment we are born — the radius of which is unbeknownst to us. Fate is the outer boundaries of this circle. It’s a polygon of infinite sides, and it’s up to us to choose a point on it. The bigger the circle, the more options are opened to you, and the greater impact you will have in your lifetime. But all that’s unbeknownst to us. It’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’ll be until you try.
Usually, we set off on a trajectory along this disc. Whether that choice be one we make, or one someone else has made in our stead, is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that many who start on this path, usually don’t deviate too far from it. They’re afraid that veering off the path they’ve selected will end up in them losing their path, endlessly exploring the disc’s surface til death do them justice. Their fear is in never finding the edge of the disc, and dying without ever knowing what was to be.
But, too often do those paths lead, not to greatness, but to the mundane. It’s a life many would rather avoid, but most continue anyways. It’s a life with clear set boundaries, and one with a foreseeable end. It’s this predictability that makes people so reluctant to veer. They look ahead and see an open highway, where no obstacles will get in the way between them and their “fate”.
But, every once in a while, something in someone’s life happens that makes them make a sharp turn into the uncharted abyss. They start their search over again, from scratch, with little to no remnants of the past to help them in their new voyage. They take a step into the unknown, and quickly fall deeper and deeper, as that first step they take is often a step past the event horizon.
Why would anyone so something that requires so much risk on their part? Why would someone give up the stability and the reliability of a path so clearly demarcated on the soil? Why would someone be so foolish as to fall prey to that monstrosity lying at the other end?
Catalysts come in all shapes and sizes. They give people a choice. The red pill or the blue pill. Take the blue pill, and you continue blissfully along the path you came along. The path that brought you all this way will be the path that takes you all the way. Take the red pill, and you’ll be taken down another path. One that promises something new, and exciting, but not necessarily one that guarantees anything.
There’s no guarantee that a catalytic event will always lead to a positive outcome. There are plenty of examples of those that end in disaster. But drifting off the beaten path is sometimes the best experience one can have in their lives. I think Adam Levine put it best. “Sometimes best laid plans are just a one night stand.” Just go with it. Throw predictability out the window once in a while. Get crazy, get lucky.