Chances

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Chances are odd creatures.

They’re elusive, prowling around unseen on the other side of life. They like to hide in the nooks and crannies so you have to search for them. Sometimes, though, they’ll pounce from out of nowhere and catch you broadside.

Chances can be little. Chances can be large. And chances are known to leave behind tears of all shades and laughs of all flavors. Wonderful, terrible, the awful of both ugliness and beauty. People meet chances differently, too. Some people welcome chances be they wild or tame; other people try to shoo chances out of their life like vermin.

But the thing about chances – no matter what you do with them, they’re still going to be there all the same. You cannot domesticate them and you cannot throw a rope around them and reign them in snarling whenever you want one. Really, you just have to face them as they come.

To be honest, I’ve hated chances. They’re all fine and well for other people, but I quite prefer predictability, thank you very much. Through my adolescence, I meticulously structured and stuffed and regulated and expecation-ed my life in the hope that there just wouldn’t be any room, chances would be too big to get in, so any chance that did happen to come along would wrinkle its nose in distaste and just keep walking.

Hah. That didn’t work. Turns out chances don’t care about whether your life is rigid or not.

So now I embrace chances with open arms, right? Uh, no. Not quite. Loose ends still stick my emotional pincushion. But by actually allowing chances room in my life, I’m finding them much friendlier creatures. For the most part. Turns out, some chances are worth it.

Like the chance I took at Trader Joe’s the other day to have an actual conversation with the person bagging my groceries. We got into how I want to be a wildlife vet and currently volunteer at the Waystation, and it turns out that the cashier’s young daughter is into animals. And that turned into me agreeing to email his daughter to chat about her interest in animals and hopefully figure out some ways to nurture that.

Or like the chance I took on a Target run in taking the time to laugh at the cashier’s joke (Yes, I do treat my cashiers as people and not just extensions of the credit card processing machine.) and explain that haha, no, I wasn’t quite buying murder weapons. That the Fruit Loops, duct tape, and cardboard coin rolls were actually for an enrichment project for animals at a place called Wildlife Waystation. That sure, I can tell her about volunteering there and write down the website.

And then there was the chance I took today. More half-finished and half-pending than completely seen through. It was also a reminder that not all chances turn out gloriously – but might still hold value. As president of the Animal Welfare Club at Caltech, back in November I took a chance and suggested that we host a presentation by Wildlife Waystation’s outreach team. And then I think whoever the god of logistics is suddenly decided to stop being bored. There room reservation issues, scheduling issues, supply mishaps, and a *minor gust* of Santa Ana winds that got Pasadena declared a disaster area the original date of the presentation. And then there were ambassador animal issues, rain, short notices, and lack of attendance by people who had RSVP-ed.

But. There were presenters. There were audience members. And there was an animal.

Kamm, a super awesome WW volunteer, with Barney the Barn Owl

Aaaand that’s about it. Anticlimactic, hunh? I’d say no. Because that may be it – but the end of that statement needs a “for now.” People now know about the Waystation who didn’t know about it before. They’ve heard stories of maltreatment and rescue, met a barn owl up close, and have the notion of doing something for animals at least existing in a back corner their mind. Maybe that’ll lead to more volunteers. Maybe it’ll lead to more donations. Or maybe it’ll just lead to someone from the audience being a little kinder to an animal carried by chance into their lives some day in the future.

And I think that’s important enough to not merit a “just” in front of it.

Chances are curious creatures. Who knows what could happen.

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