I’m happy to introduce a new word to the English language today. The word is “clandestiny.” Here’s how it came to be.

For several days last week on my walks with Henry I found myself thinking about whether or not I believe in destiny. Destiny is defined as “a predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events.” Over the course of those few walks, I came to the conclusion that I do, and I don’t.

On the one hand, I believe that God made us beings of free will. We can make any decision we like – good or bad – on any issue, topic or lifestyle. I can choose the reuben sandwich or the chef salad. I can drive a Honda or a Toyota. I can have a dog (or two), a cat, both or neither. I have the power to make my own choices. So destiny seems a little new age in the context of free will.

On the other hand, I have a genetic make-up that predisposes me to do, not do, like or dislike certain things. There are lots of people who play guitar. There are fewer people who play well, and even fewer who make the level of artist. To become an artist, one has some kind of genetic make-up that gives him or her a natural ability in music. The same can be said for successful athletes, business people, visual artists, writers, speakers…the list goes on. I further believe that those who achieve levels of excellence through hard work and practice have a genetic make-up that makes them able to concentrate and apply knowledge – allowing, for example, someone with limited musical ability to develop a talent that isn’t naturally there.

All that is to say this: I believe that, in large part, we control our destinies by the decisions we make based on the people we are. But in a smaller but significant part, I do believe external factors in which we have little or no control can enter in. Here’s an example.

When Aprill and I were first married, we lived in upstate New York. I worked in Troy, Aprill was finishing college in Albany, and we wanted to live in Schenectady. Oh, and we had one car! We’d get up in the morning and I’d drive Aprill to Albany, then to Troy. In the afternoon when her classes were finished, she’d hop on a bus and ride back to Schenectady.

Before she graduated (and before we got a second car), she got a part-time job. One main criterion was it needed to be a place where she could walk to. So one morning, she walked out the front door of the apartment, took a left, took another left and ended up at Rock Garden Pharmacy. She went in and asked for a job for which there was no opening, and the pharmacist, Tom D’Annunzio, hired her. Twenty five years later, if we were to name our 5 best friends, Tom and Chris D’Annuzio would definitely make the list. Had we decided (which we could have) to live in Troy or Albany, we would likely have never met them and our list of best friends would have been different.

Destiny? Maybe. The factors were predetermined, but I think we determined them. So I don’t know.

Then, what is clandestiny?

Clandestiny, by my definition, is: a predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events that shape your life, but which remain hidden from you, and about which you will never know.

Have you every given that any thought? There are so many things that we can point back to that have shaped certain events. But it stands to reason that there are other, equally significant things that happen to shape events that we never know about. They happen, create an impact and go completely unnoticed to any of the players in the situation. Clandestiny.

A drunk driver is coming in your direction, but makes a right turn at the intersection 30 seconds before you reach it.

That’s a chapter in your clandestiny.

You’re shopping for a new home, and the person living in a house you love is contemplating a job offer in another city, only to decide to stay and not put the house on the market.

That’s part of your clandestiny.

You decide to have a cup of coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks, missing being introduced to a friend of a friend who is looking for musicians to play on a CD that will eventually sell a half a million copies.

That’s clandestiny.

At the last minute, you choose steak fajitas instead of chicken and dodge a case of salmonella.

That’s a moment of clandestiny.

So, there you go. A new word to add to your vernacular.

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