Rendered Fat Content


Martin Lewis: Chance Meeting (1940-41)

" … the good kind of double-damned bind."

Chance Encounter

"Let’s hear it for the Chance
Let’s sing the praise of unplanned design;
‘Cause she’s always there keepin’ an eye on,
Unlikely you’ll leave her behind.
More unlikely, she’ll leave you behind …"

I fancy myself a great believer in the ChanceEncounter.
Oh, I'm planful enough, often way too planful for my own good, but I'm learning that anything could intrude to render moot even my most meticulously planned initiative, and that however enthralled I might become with my own genius—which admittedly does sometimes border on the considerable—a superior intelligence could appear at any odd second. My primary responsibility might be, and might have always been, to simply attend to that emergence. I firmly believe that she's always stalking me, always monitoring my performance, and ready to step in even when I'm most certain that I'm doing just fine. She often intrudes at an incredibly inconvenient time.

"Let’s hear it for the grand delusion
Let’s sing the praise of whatever we find
For there’s always some reason behind there
of which we’re supposed to be blind.
Sing the praises of whatever we find."

My schooling, such as it was, and my continuing education since, neglected to mention this, that there's always, always, always an improvement coming. However perfect or perfectly awful any situation seems, it's wrapped in this potential for change. Like most packaging, however, it seems unlikely to ever yield to any strategy intending to remove its covering. For most intents and purposes, realizing that potential for positive change lies just beyond intention or will. It will almost never visit at anyone's bidding. It visits via that space in your vision upon which one cannot quite focus. A glance often reveals more of it that any deliberate stare. Like a MagicEye® image, its deeper significance never seems obvious until that ChanceEncounter occurs. Then, everything's revealed, or, if not everything, enough to perhaps convince me that everything's different than it had seemed before.

"You’d be nowhere now without her monkey wrench messin’ your mind.
There’s no reason to think you’ll ever out think what chance has intended you find.
What a dandy-good, double-damned bind.
Sing the praises of whatever we find."

I wrote this song the afternoon before I first performed it. I wrote this one as a gift to my dear, dear friend Franklin, who at that time was moving far away. I'd known him for a year or so and we'd become in my mind inseparable. Our relationship began as the chanciest of ChanceEncounters and grew to become an integral part of both of our lives. Franklin had been performing a series of house concerts, an old tradition in the place we lived then, and this one included several of his songwriter friends, each performing an original in homage to him. He was raising money for his move, him being some considerable songwriter and musician. We'd met when our spouses had forced us out of our houses, encouraging us each to attend a TedTalk® event where we might socialize, as we'd both become rather hermit-like. Me, due to our exile. Him, for his own good reasons. We'd each grown stale enough that our spouses were worrying about us, so we complied.

This event featured forced networking. During breaks, the organizers would order the auditorium emptied, forcing all participants out into the theater's lobby, there, to network by proximity, I guess. I headed for the exit and spent the first break out on the front sidewalk. During the second break, I noticed some unused tables and chairs stacked over in a further corner of the lobby and squeezed my way through the throng to investigate. I found an opening in the otherwise solid wall of furniture and slipped in to escape the crowd's crush, only to find someone already inhabiting that hideout. That other was Franklin, my ChanceEncounter, and me, his.

"Let’s hear it for the Chance Encounter,
Let’s sing the praise of just what we’ve found!
Though it’s not what we chose, I suppose heaven knows
It’s the purpose to which we are blind
that determines what we’ll leave behind."

We learned that we lived within a mile of each other and that we both considered ourselves to be songwriters. We networked in spite of ourselves then excused ourselves to return to explain to our spouses about the remarkable person we met, thanks to their insistence. (This sort of reporting tends to leave said spouse feeling like a genius, never a regrettable result.) Franklin and I began meeting every Thursday morning. We met to share songs, though we mostly shared stories, to create reassurance. We became just what the other needed to manage the transition back into living our lives again. Franklin's moving served as evidence that he was over that hump. We continued meeting over the phone even after he'd gone, and, indeed, continue the tradition eleven years later, all due to one doozy of a ChanceEncounter.

"You’d be nowhere now without her monkey wrench messin’ your mind.
There’s no reason to think you’ll ever out think what chance has intended you find.
What a dandy-good, double-damned bind.
Sing the praises of whatever we find."

I long ago convinced myself that there's a science governing the ChanceEncounter, though I hardly understand the fundamental physics of it. From my perspective it's a faith-based imperative, something which can be absolutely counted upon but never predicted. The very belief in it seems to encourage it, but it requires more than belief to work. It might also depend upon a measure of disbelief as well, the conviction that nothing very much will very likely happen, for this nonchalance seems to encourage its emergence. One must simply stumble into it unsuspecting, and there's really no way to deliberately induce unsuspecting.

There, I've described what might well amount to my deepest and closely-held secret to my success. It requires no particular talent from me, other than a distant sort of acceptance. It does demand a certain sort of consciousness, one that insists upon peering through veils, and one which pretty much considers everything to probably be just another veil to quizzically peer through. No, I do not expect to ever be inhabiting anything like a Hell, for I have grown to firmly believe in and rely upon the lowly ChanceEncounter. "There's no reason to think I could ever outthink what chance has intended I find," the good kind of double-damned bind.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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