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The Vicissitudes of Life


“Oh! That the vicissitudes of life would come,

A preamble to a higher elevation

To worlds more real and dear

From whence we derive more virtue and pleasure!”


 Friday, February 15, 2008 *

I suppose that you and I would better understand the meaning of vicissitudes of life as mishaps, troubles and woes we encounter along life’s journey. Or maybe, simpler still, the ‘ups and downs of life.’

My interpretation of Enoch’s poem;

It is simply this: As I have never known anything but vicissitudes in my life, since I arrived on this magnificent planet, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to accept that they are here to stay. In which case, I had better create a relationship with this bedpartner.

I have discovered relationships of every sort require I set about getting to know the person with whom I am wanting to build a relationship. Next, it is wise to give that person both my respect and trust. (bear in mind that trust is given, not earned.) There are many other helpful requirements, but these will do for the moment.

Relationship with my bedpartner, vicissitudes, requires that I get to know this partner.

Lets begin with, who is vicissitude? Merriam-Webster offer this useful description: “natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs.” Hey-ho, humanities’ worst nightmare – change! (in fact change is my best friend in disguise.)

I like MW’s descriptive words, ‘natural, mutation.’ Let me offer my definition: “A process of evolvement.”

‘Natural’ means that it is not brought about by humanity. (except as a result of human action, causing a natural reaction.) ‘Mutation’ means it is embedded so deeply in nature or human body and or psyche, that we can’t change it.

To put it concisely, “Events that have their origin in something we cannot change.”

Before I take this further, let me briefly mention the principle of ’cause and effect.’ A vicissitude can often arise as an effect of human action resulting in a natural reaction.

Here is an example: You have been warned since childhood not to stand under a tree during a lightning storm, but you take a chance and do so anyway. Suddenly a bolt of lightning strikes you and alters your appearance forever! Through human action you invited natural reaction – Cause and effect.

Each event in my life I have classified with such names as “good or bad, right or wrong.’ Which is ridiculous when I come to think about it. None of those words apply to me standing under the tree when I was warned not to do so; it was simply unwise or stupid!

In getting to know my bedpartner, I must toss those four words out of my dictionary. I won a small prize in the lotto this morning, was that good? No it was a wee blessing. I dropped my mobile into the bath whilst fielding a SMS the other day, was that bad? No, baths are not compatible with mobiles. When my friend heard the story, he gave me his spare mobile which was an upgrade on mine! Was this a good thing? No, it was a generous act on my friend’s part that really solved my problem. Observe – I had to drop my mobile in the bath to be gifted with a free upgrade, my bedpartner came up trumps!

I found, getting to accept that some things in MY life are the results of MY thoughts and actions versus others which are natural occurrences has really helped me. But whether experiences come about because of me or simply natural, the more I accept ALL episodes (no exception here,) creates the effect that everything in the end produces positive results for me.

This is how I came to know my bedfellow – vicissitudes. Now, like Enoch, I welcome them into my life.

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