Perhaps you’ve seen the Matt Damon film, “The Adjustment Bureau,” or read the Phillip K. Dick short story, “Adjustment Team,” on which it is based? The film is a capable and entertaining enough romantic drama about a man who suddenly discovers that the events of his life aren’t necessarily always his choosing. That occasionally, his destiny is given a slight shift or nudge by members of a secret world known as the Adjustment Bureau. The adjustment could come in the form of something as simple as a stranger bumping into you on the street or as elaborate as the freezing of a specific moment in time so that members of the team can actually come in and make little alterations. The kinds of changes that you would never notice let alone think twice about but in the grand scheme amount to you never meeting a specific person, getting a certain job or having a real moment of clarity. All because in an instant you were made to look a different way thereby missing a detail that otherwise would have set you down an entirely alternate path with its own set of realities and consequences. A completely innocuous event which in the grander scheme causes a ripple effect that forever alters the outcome of the human race.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s an entertaining enough film and quite frankly, worth a view. For the record, the concept has been dealt with in other films like Groundhog Day and Sliding Doors; the latter of which shows what two versions of the same life look like when in one the main character gets on a subway, and in the other misses the subway by a matter of seconds.
It used to be that when five people walked into the Starbucks half a second in front of me or a car pulled into the last remaining parking spot right before my very eyes, that I was simply on the receiving end of bad karma. “Mother-fucker!” would be my typical internal reaction. “The God’s must certainly be teaming to screw up my already shitty day.” And there are no doubt people who will feel that my lack of positivity in that moment has everything to do with how and why this happened. To them I offer another possibility. One that dictates that I have suddenly and without warning, been adjusted.
It happened to me just this morning. I drove for two miles behind the one car that would ultimately pull into the one and only available parking spot on the street. Suddenly, my life is completely altered by the additional five minutes I need to spend in my car looking for another space. What might my life have been like had I gotten to this spot before this other person? Perhaps it means the difference between me buying the winning lottery ticket and not. Perhaps it averted me from a complete and total disaster? Without being able to go back in time and rewrite the events as they unfolded, it’s completely irrelevant. It can also be maddening if you venture to over think it which I would caution you not to do.
What is relevant is the knowledge that this awareness and thinking might offer. And how my own little shift in perspective based on this ever so ludicrous Matt Damon film has actually been somewhat life changing.
It goes back to something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember and something I constantly find myself working on. That to quote Forrest Gump, like everyone else on this spinning rock, I am much better served if I just surrender to the idea that “shit happens.” There is no conspiracy. Something that completely contradicts the way in which I was raised; that I am justified in my anger when I am stuck in traffic or forced to wait five extra minutes at the Starbucks.
A friend recently offered me the idea that one of life’s great objectives is to learn how to be undisturbed. Believe it or not, this film has helped me to do just that. For all intensive purposes, it’s adjusted my attitude. Adjustment has become my own little stupid way of dealing with life’s little inconveniences. As such, I do not become angry or hostile. Instead, I embrace adjustment as I have come to realize that it is another thing that keeps me in check with the universe. Case in point, this mornings incident. Without it, who knows what my fate may have been? Perhaps it would have set off a catastrophic chain of events? Perhaps not. The reality was, instead of parking right away I got to listen to the song Blackbird which I otherwise wouldn’t have heard. And who doesn’t love Blackbird? And yes, I recognize that this is just me coming up with yet another way to attempt to be positive by using a fairly irrelevant movie and that I have most likely put more thought into this obscure film than anyone else on this planet. Whatever works, right?
Just remember that the next time you miss the bus, or a plane, or get stuck in traffic or get behind that one guy at the movie theater that still has no idea what he wants despite the fact that he’s been waiting for fifteen fucking minutes, try to remember that you haven’t been harmed or inconvenienced. You’ve simply been adjusted. And it’s a good thing.