"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."
-Stephen Hawking, in his book Black Holes and Baby Universes

Dealing with legal matters is stressful.  Resources and emotions can be strained to the limit.  It takes a lot of courage for people who aren't used to the legal system, to bring their issues and lives to the table in such a public and contentious arena.  And some people may think the deck is stacked against them, so why even bother? What's the use?  So they avoid the legal process entirely.

I'm reminded of various relatives and friends, who, at family gatherings and parties, would start talking about how "we're going to die anyway, so, let's get bombed! Let's have 'fun'(!).  The world's a mess, so just have another beer (or 2 or 3 or 10)!"  And the party and drinking would go on and on.  Such "merriment" in the face of "doom"!  The true doom was the state of their livers and their epic hangovers.  

Also, my dear departed mother, no disrespect intended,  knew she had diabetes for years. She couldn't face the regimen needed to protect herself from the ravages of the disease.   Things like regular exercise, monitoring blood sugar and diet, taking medicines and other self-care were too much for her, after the rigors of raising 10 children.  She was probably tired and sort of gave up, choosing to ignore the danger.  It was like walking into the street without looking first, and she died quite young from the uncontrolled diabetes that caused her kidneys to fail.  It was hard to for me to fathom.

As Hawking points out, most people have the sense to "look both ways" even when they proclaim that destiny is king.  However, its seems like the people I grew up around really let Destiny take over.

So, the topic is fatalism, the idea that we can't control our destiny and therefore would be foolish to try to change things or try to break free of old patterns.  It's a little bit of hopelessness, maybe even depression, learned through generations of hard times.  Perhaps some people get this through a religious sense of "God" in charge, of a Force greater than us operating silently in the backstage of the universe, and we are just bit players with the illusion of control.  I know a streak of this thinking runs through my Mexican-American-Catholic-Indigenous baggage.  It's not uncommon in other peoples, either.

But on the other hand, not all my relatives caved in to fatalistic tendencies.   Remember, to immigrate to the USA, regardless of method of entry, is a complete "take charge" move, one that requires hope and determination to beat the odds and buck the "destiny" of the old world.  I was lucky to know my grandparents, and they were not the party-hearty types. They scrambled to keep working, even in the Depression, and refused self-pity, always keeping their own sense of mastery of their simple worlds of labor and family.  They and their own parents decided NOT to stay in their war-torn country, to be slaughtered or starved during the Mexican Revolution, so they came here and stayed, no matter what it took to do it.

So fatalism can be fatal.  I can give up, or I can keep on "truckin'", as they used to say.  One big foot forward, pushing through the door, risking a stubbed toe or sprained ankle along the way, but moving ahead.  Optimistic, not fatalistic.

The new year, full of promise, hope, new beginnings and resolutions.  It's a good time to organize your life, your paperwork, your home and clutter.  The newspaper ads are filled with storage boxes and containers, just to help you imagine a well-ordered world and spur you to purchase them.  More boxes for the new and old stuff accumulated through the holidays?  LOL.

We all know that life is also filled with uncertainty to a great extent.  And the worst thing is, most of us just aren't ready for the possibility that we or our close loved ones may suffer serious illness, incapacity or the ultimate call to eternity, without warning.  I do a lot of driving around as a mobile notary public, along the country highways and hills of Marin and Sonoma Counties.  I try not to think about the worst, yet I know that there is danger on all of these 2-lane, undivided highways, lurking around every bend where an inattentive driver could cross the line to disaster.

So, take a few minutes to do some truly useful organizing, for your loved ones and yourself.  If you were suddenly laid up in the hospital for a while, unable to speak, in tremendous pain and possibly unconsciousness, how would your family be able to cope with the necessities you usually take care of: e.g. banking, bill paying, communicating with the doctor about your choices for treatment, caring for your elderly parent or young child?  Not an easy thing to think about.  

But you can take practical steps such as writing down how to pay bills, combinations to safes or safe deposit boxes, a list of assets and insurance; organizing passwords for access to online accounts; creating basic legal documents to allow someone to act in your place if you were to become incapacitated...so many details that become horribly urgent and overwhelming during a family crisis.   

I wish everyone a safe and secure new year, filled with a multitude of good times and relatively few "what if's".