noun ( pl. -cies)
a future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty
• a provision for such an events or circumstance : a contingency reserve.
• the absence of certainty in events
• Philosophy the absence of necessity; the fact of being so without having to be so.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (in the philosophical sense): from late Latin contingentia (in its medieval Latin sense ‘circumstance’ ), from contingere ‘befall’ (see contingent ).
5:45am and I’m driving in the dark to Foodland on a vinegar mission. Jeb’s magic potions have tapped our house’s supply and the representative at Sears says I need to dump vinegar in my malfunctioning washing machine.
I get on a plane tonight and my planning list did not include this troubleshooting on the agenda. Friends laugh at me for packing two weeks early but I’ve got this penchant towards contingencies. I expect the unexpected. This washer on the fritz – case in point.
There have been other flare ups not penciled into my itinerary. Didn’t expect Jeb to have two bodily injuries in one week, which factored in a last-minute doctor’s appointment. I also didn’t expect my cell phone’s voicemail to lock me out the day before departure.
But if it’s all about the journey, then I try to do some sight-seeing along the detours. Jeb got his first chiropractic adjustment, faced some fears and left the office walking a little taller. I met Joey, the Apple tech support rep who was having a slow night and welcomed the chance to get me back into my voicemail, wishing me a good trip.
You gotta trust a change of plans. For instance, yesterday I learned the rocket scientist would not be present at my coastal feel-good place. Our roads are so forked we’re not even on the same continent. My retreat takes on new elbow room.
Driving back from Foodland with my quart of vinegar by my side, the sky is just beginning to light in purple mauves and greys. Venus sidles up to the sliver of the waning moon, hanging low above the island highway. This moment is precious. One I would not have had if my washer was in perfect working order.
So I’ll splash some vinegar around inside the Kenmore. Reference my to do lists and keep crossing off the tasks accomplished. I’ve got a semblance of a plan in mind. It makes it smoother. But most certainly those things you just can’t imagine – the twists in the plot, the unexpected guests – they bring the magic (even in their disrepair) if we take the time to let them shape our path.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
John Lennon (Beautiful Boy)