It’s another way of saying randomness when you want to sound smart (the official definition is far more complex and has something to do with non-deterministic states, whatever that means) but I rank it on my list of favorite words—somewhere up there with serendipity. They make life interesting.

I first heard this word while listening to RadioLab, a wonderfully informative podcast that’s a little science, a little human interest, with a touch of sass. Every time I listen to an episode, I learn something new. In it, they talked about randomness and the role it plays in our everyday lives. And it got me thinking…

For the Type A personalities who need to plan every detail of their lives down to the minute, this will probably cause unexpected discomfort somewhere in the region of their brains where schedules are managed, priorities are kept, and order is maintained with strict precision. Chance and randomness are words it’s never heard of, let alone the fancier, more obscure concept of stochasticity.

How to deal when chaos and unplanned events threaten to upset the delicate balance?

Somewhere in my DNA I must also carry a bit of this Type A gene, though the current state of my desk (and the trunk of my car) would suggest otherwise. I enjoy order and appreciate planning as much as the next person.

For example, I’m convinced only the truly masochistic would ever consider a spontaneous hike into nature without so much as a water bottle or, more importantly, a cell phone. This is a level of daring I am unable to comprehend. Going “off the grid” is all fine and good but seriously? What if you get lost or stranded? What if you fall into a patch of poison oak or worse, decide to step off the beaten path and instead wind up tumbling down the mountain? There are so many what ifs my Type A gene is breaking out in hives at the thought of all the unmitigated disasters that could befall such a person due to the shocking lack of planning.

See what I mean?

But when I really think about it, this is precisely when life happens. It’s when random chance and the unexpected collide that life is at its most interesting.

Think about where you are right now in your life. Then think about how you got here. Think about the circumstances that had to all come together in order for you to arrive where you are at this very moment as the person you are, with the things you know, and the experiences you’ve had. Pretty sure that the best memories of your life aren’t all ones you predicted or even expected to happen.

But isn’t that kind of what makes them so great?

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