Even Odds

From a human perspective, the odds are always even.

Given x as anything at all, x either is or is not.

On one hand, I like that. The hand that gets things done and makes things happen is happier knowing that there is already a 50/50 chance of x changing into x + 1 or whatever. So the working hand increases the odds with little effort.

On the other hand, the trusting hand, anything odd can become even (or even, odd) with no effort. That is God at work.

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Take that walker up there in my living room, for example. I have named her Mrs. T******, and here is the story:

Back not that long ago I delivered mail to Mrs. T every working day. She is what we called a medical dismount. That means that although her box is on the street and I could just reach out the mail truck window and open her box, she cannot. She is not able to go to her box, so I take her mail up to her door. Most days, I would see her sitting in her own living room just gazing into the corner. I’d put her mail in the box on her porch, and most times I would also pick up an outgoing letter or card that she had attached by a clothespin. If it was a rainy day, her outgoing mail would be in a ziplock bag attached to her box. I’d take the mail and leave the bag and clothespin for next time.

Then, with her mail in one hand (the trusting hand?), and nothing in the other, I would go to her stairs and do a little exercise, a kind of push up between the perfectly-spaced rails of her porch. It felt good, waked me up, and built a little upper-body strength. I mostly did it as just a thing to do.

Little did I know, of course, that later on when I had a new hip joint placed into my left hip and thigh, it would be upper-body strength that I’d need. My legs were what they were, post-surgery, and they’d grow stronger in time. But, I could get along quite well in and out of bed, the tub, out the door, and all around, by using my arms primarily.

Now, I am fine. I stopped delivering her mail before my surgery and I shall not do it again probably, and I lack her stairs too. But, I have that walker! It was given to me by a church friend and I used it for its intended purpose for about a week. I found, however, that the handholds on that walker are the same distance apart as Mrs. T’s stairs, so I can still do that exercise, the exclusive use of that walker now.

Does Mrs. T know what comes from her cards and letters? On the one hand, maybe not. Does she know that her stairs, while she stared into a corner (mourning, hoping, trusting?), have blessed a guy, this guy, and that there is a walker named in her honor. The word “inconceivable” from The Princess Bride comes to mind, and the odds seem astronomical. Yet, the odds are even: She knows, or she does not.


A few days ago I was talking to another guy whose profession it is to offer helpful suggestions toward mental health. We were discussing Hegel [Fichte], and the existential idea of the thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Everything I have cared to tell him (which is a lot, because I trust him and because of HIPAA), he knows about me. He told me that I played the role of antithesis. That I skirt the edges and that I like to peer into the thesis while pushing or pulling it into synthesis. I told him first, that it was an astute observation and second, that I like it. “Why is that?”, I asked him, why do I like to be on the edge, to be the antithesis.

He asked “why” also, as in why ask why? Are you justifying yourself? Who is here, he said looking around the small room with a clock ten minutes fast? It just is. You either are or are not and in this case, you are, he told me. So wonderfully helpful! Even odds.

Even odds, even though I like to be odd . . .

God works that way too, taking one and making it two, making it three for example.