Dancing on the Feet of Chance

When my daughters were small, we used to dance with one of them standing on my feet: I would dance and she would go along for the ride. Our course was up to me, but she enjoyed wherever I would take her. Sometimes, there wasn’t even any music — no external justification for the dance, if you will — just a light-hearted communion between father and daughter.

That’s what came to my mind when I read this passage from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The wise man, Zarathustra, is speaking to the pre-dawn sky.

Verily, it is a blessing and not a blasphemy when I teach: “Over all things stand the heaven Accident, the heaven Innocence, the heaven Chance, the heaven Prankishness.”

“By Chance” — that is the most ancient nobility of the world, and this I restored to all things: I delivered them from their bondage under Purpose. This freedom and heavenly cheer I have placed over all things like an azure bell when I taught that over them and through them no “eternal will” wills. This prankish folly I have put in place of that will when I taught: “In everything one thing is impossible: rationality.”

A little reason, to be sure, a seed of wisdom scattered from star to star — this leaven is mixed in with all things: for folly’s sake, wisdom is mixed in with all things. A little wisdom is possible indeed; but this blessed certainty I have found in all things: that they would rather dance on the feet of Chance.

Many people feel that seeking and attempting to follow an “eternal will” is a blessing, and that unless there is a Purpose behind the universe, their own lives cannot have a purpose and would not be worth living.

At one time I felt that way, but now I’m with Zarathustra. There is a lightness, a “freedom and heavenly cheer,” to dancing with the universe on the feet of Chance.

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