I am not a big believer in free will. I am of the belief that free will basically consists of having the choice to follow the path fate has chosen for your or trying to avoid it. There might be a small amount of wiggle room in their somewhere for your own decisions, but it seems to me that the forces of the earth (I won't even get into the universe) are so powerful that you have to wonder how much one person's decisions can affect anything.
Okay, that's the general, here's the specific: Last night, we went to the Seawolves game. In the words of Joe Tait, it was "A beautiful night for baseball." Seawolves won 3-2 in a fairly tightly played contest that was over in a couple hours. This was great because the place was packed with a lot of people more interested in the postgame fireworks than the baseball.
After the game and before the fireworks, they have this thing called launch-a-ball. The Seawolves sell a bunch of numbered tennis balls for $1 apiece. The numbers correspond to a ticket they give you (or something along these lines). They then set up some hula hoops in the infield that, when they give the cue, you throw the tennis balls at - trying to get them to stop inside a hoops to win prizes. It's stuff like $25 gift cards to local restaurants and shops.
I'm not a huge fan of games of chance, but I've participated in launch-a-ball a few times over the years - last year I think we won a bunch of free chances - but have never won anything. Last night, I didn't buy any, and we were watching as everyone was throwing theirs and one of the tennis ball hits my sister in the the head. It rolls a few feet down and my mother-in-law picks it up and has no idea what it is.
My daughter and I spend a few minutes explaining to her what launch-a-ball is, and she finally gives the ball to my daughter who passes it on to me. Without really thinking, I fling it towards the hoops on the field. It bounces a few times and then rolls right into the Pulakos hoop for a winner. Cool, we thought, we just won someone a prize.
Well, they give out the prizes and we are sitting there waiting for the fireworks to start. This older lady and this little girl come up to my sister (they must have seen the ball hit her) and ask how it ended up in the hoop. She told them I threw it and they proceed to thank me. "She was so upset, she was crying and her father...." I didn't hear the rest of the what she said, but the whole thing kind of stunned me. I just waved, gave a brief smile and turned back toward the field.
I was thinking, "Here I am being thanked for something that I just kind of got swept into. It was nothing I planned and it was really only a semi-conscious choice to throw the ball. The whole thing just kind of happened and I was part of it. I mean, as I said, I've actually tried to get the ball in these hoops before and was never able to. This time, I was surely guided by fate, which was looking out for this little girl. And while I am proud and happy to have been a part of the chain of events that helped make her happy, can I really take any credit? I guess I can for accepting my fate.
Happy Independence Day!