Many people believe in chance and luck, and equally many people do not. A famous golfer, I believe, once said, “the more I practise, the luckier I get”. That is undoubtedly true but there is still an element of chance in life, a chance that a random event could occur in somebody’s life and knock them off course sending them in an entirely different direction.
Thomas Hardy, of course, wrote about this in his stories. For example, one of his characters was walking across a field when a young woman, as a joke, threw a piece of pig offal at him. When it struck him it drew his attention to the young woman and he found an entirely different part of his life pursuing her and eventually marrying her and all the consequences which then followed which then flowed from that.
I am sure that everybody would be able to point to some similar occurrence in their life. I, myself, met my first wife because I came home from the Alps where I had been climbing with a German friend a day early, having mistaken the day of the week. Having arrived home a day early, I was able to go to a party which I would not have been able to attend had I returned home at the intended time. At that party, I met my first wife.
Chance, in my view, plays a part in all our lives, although as I get older I wonder if in fact it isn’t fate because as you look back upon your life, you start to see patterns and the form that chance takes can also resolve itself into a pattern. As you grow older and look at your life in retrospect, you too may be able to discern patterns in the way that events occur and then unfold.
It can seem almost as if there is a scheme or a pattern for an individual’s life, however insignificant we may be in terms of the cosmos or the rest of humanity, and this is one of the things which makes stories, story writing and story telling so fascinating because since the beginning of time it has been exactly the same. We look with wonder at the lives of others as told in story form, held up as a kind of mirror to our own lives.
In my story, The Retainer, it is the chance meeting with a professional criminal and what flows from that which determines an entirely new life for the hero. As a consequence of that meeting and what flowed from it, instead of leading a predictable and perhaps boring life as a provincial solicitor, suddenly he is plunged into a life of crime from which he is ultimately unable to escape, or is he? You have to read the story and reach the end and then think about it.