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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

"Magnolia" Throwback Review

How much of your life truly is your own? By that, I mean how many of the outcomes in your life can you definitively claim were because of you, and only you?

If you took a step back and examined where you are now and how you got there, you would see that most of it are because of luck, chance, and pure coincidence.

Take my experience, for example.

Freshman year of college, I come in not knowing a single person. I get assigned a random room and roommate on the second floor of a dorm. Two weeks before classes start, my roommate decides to drop out, meaning I get moved to the third floor to live with someone else whose roommate also dropped out. Across from that room is the person who would become my best friend throughout all four years.

On the first day of classes, my best friend, who's a person who likes to sit in the back of the class and not talk at all, doesn't make it to class in time to get his preferred spot. He has to settle for sitting in one of the middle rows. The person who sits next to him is wearing a Chicago Cubs shirt. My friend, being from the Chicago area and feeling compelled to mingle on the first day, strikes up a conversation with him. They find out they have a lot of the same interests and decide to go to lunch together after class and invite me along with them. That was the first day I and my two best friends met, and that was over four years ago.

Now, what are the odds that (1) I get assigned to that specific dorm; (2) have my original roommate drop out of college; (3) get reassigned to the third floor in that specific room across from my eventual best friend; (4) my friend doesn't get to class in time to get his preferred spot; (5) my other friend decides to wear the Chicago Cubs shirt on that day and sit in that exact spot; (6) the two friends share the same interests and decide to eat lunch together instead of just being colleagues in class; and (7) all three of us hit it off well and stay friends to this day?

I guarantee you that any attempt to quantify those odds would melt even the most advanced computer. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Magnolia is a messy movie about the messiness of life. That one-in-a-billion kind of thing is exactly what rules over our lives. It's chaos perceived as order, with your path never truly being your own. Some may cope with that fact by calling it fate, but it's just randomness. You're always crashing into someone else's path, either for the better or for the worse. Or sometimes it's neither, as you just cross and make nothing of it.

But how does someone like me, who is an accountant and whose job is to sift through piles and piles of chaotic information and sort and categorize it into meaningful information, like a movie so messy and overblown?

Well, you know what they say. Opposites attract.


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