Nothing is Random

Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be, whether a
long string of perfectly blue days that begin and end in
golden dimness, the most seemingly chaotic political acts,
the rise of a great city, the crystalline structure of a gem
that has never seen the light, the distributions of fortune,
what time the milkman gets up, the position of the electron,
or the occurrence of one astonishingly frigid winter after
Even electrons, supposedly the paragons of unpredictability,
are tame and obsequious little creatures that rush around at
the speed of light, going precisely where they are supposed
to go. They make faint whistling sounds that when
apprehended in varying combinations are as pleasant as the
wind flying through a forest, and they do exactly as they are
told. Of this, one can be certain.
And yet there is a wonderful anarchy, in that the milkman
chooses when to arise, the rat picks the tunnel into which
he will dive when the subway comes rushing down the
track from Borough Hall, and the snowflake will fall as it
will. How can this be? If nothing is random, and everything
is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer
to that is simple.

Nothing is predetermined; it is determined, or was
determined, or will be determined. No matter, it all
happened at once, in less than an instant, and time was
invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the
enormous and detailed canvas that we have been given – so
we track it, in linear fashion, piece by piece. Time,
however, can be easily overcome; not by chasing light, but
by standing back far enough to see it all at once.

The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever
was, is; everything that ever will be, is – and so on, in all
possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we imagine
that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and
quite astonishingly beautiful.

In the end, or rather, as things really are, any event, no
matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all
others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are
brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead
come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun
and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and
accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to
obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something
that will be, but as something that is.
Winter’s Tale
by Mark Helprin