The Predictably Unpredictable

Forbes’s Diane Clehane called Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s divorce “shocking and predictable.”  Some Jesuits at TJP could say the same about Holmes’ reported return to Catholicism and her choice to register at one of the Jesuit churches in New York.

St. Ignatius texts Katie Holmes

St. Ignatius texts Katie Holmes

It’s reasonable to think that as predictability increases, shock should decrease, but abated shock is nevertheless the self’s commentary about itself. The predictable is no less a stressor than the unpredictable because embedded in the predictable is often the unpredictable.  By paying attention to our internal reaction to stressors, especially the so-called “predictable ones,” we can all journey a bit further in the enormous endeavor of self-discovery.

The TomKat situation, though expected, invoked serious incredulity in the media.  Given the divorce rate among American celebrities, predictability is definitely high, but TomKat’s divorce is particularly shocking to fans.  Despite being a divorcee himself twice before, even Cruise claimed that Holmes’ decision to split shocked him.

I’m tempted to call Cruise and his devotees naïve and hopelessly romantic, but seeing Cruise’s childlike joy when he married Holmes five years ago made even a cynic like me wish the best for the couple.  There was a spark in this marriage—maybe it was the beauty of the couple, or the joy, or the sacrifices both parties made for their daughter—that got people’s hope up.   The shock of their breakup is the evidence of this hope.

Was that hope all for naught?  Are we better off hopeless?  Or is there always a part of us that cannot help but hope?

Because predictability relies on common sense rather than a sixth sense, there is always room for error, or even hope. Many of us have had experiences that made us pause and wonder if probability and chance owe obedience to another master. The little old Vietnamese church ladies in my home parish still manage to see enough beauty in human nature to pray for world peace as if its really going to happen.  And why not, they escaped death during the Vietnam War.  They have lived long enough to see the impossible made possible.

No matter how hopeless the cause, no matter how predictable the outcome, we are drawn towards the possibility of success and salvation.  If a patient with an aggressive form of cancer has no chance of survival without treatment ends up surviving, then it is not silly to have hoped in TomKat’s relationship.

When we ignore hope and place our trust completely in predictability, hope nags, begs, and even bites forcing us to admit that we do indeed see the unpredictable within the predictable.  And at times, the shock that comes from the “predictable” is a reminder that we are made for hope after all.

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Cover Image Credit: Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise by Sharon Graphics via Flickr

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