An American Mystagogue

Opportunity; A good omen by any other name



The Knight at the Crossroads
 by Viktor Vasnetsov

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines opportunity as “a favorable juncture of circumstances “. Essentially it is the idea that in a moment of time, there comes a sort of metaphorical “crossroads”. A choice has to be made. To the right lies a road paved in gold and lined with forest flowers that will surely lead to success, wealth, and victory. To the left swerves a crooked and perilous path along brambles and thorny bushes into certain doom and the whole scene is complete with a big sign that directs you to success or failure. Right?

Not really. In the real world, these crossroad moments aren’t so easily discerned. Not only are there far more than two choices in most circumstances, but their appearance holds almost no sway over the outcome of meandering down and seeing what lay ahead. The dark and brambled path may very well end in a pot of gold or great prestige, and likewise the gilded road may lead straight into a personal hell, an ambush for the over-spirited; and instead of two paths, there are dozens around you, as if you were in the epicenter of some megalopolis. Any step taken in a direction can end in a million ways. Not so romantic.

So, if all of these options end in some vague, mostly unpredictable consequences, what exactly is an opportunity? If a gilded road can end in burning hellfire, is anything truly an opportunity? Well, the answer is that the idea of an opportunity is misunderstood to begin with. Some options are certainly more stable than others but there is a chaotic factor to the world that looms over every chance, no matter how seemingly concrete. You may be asking, “Is opportunity an illusion, a delusion? Where does the bread go when I put it in the toaster?”, and I’d have to say that opportunity only ever functioned under the same basic mechanics as another “O” word, less used. Omens.

The bread is with your goldfish in toaster/goldfish heaven. Or not.


What are omens? Also known as auspices, omens were essentially a form of divination in which a person would experience an event that would be taken as a sign of good fortune. Notable examples include ex caelo (from weather, clouds, storms) ex avibus (from the birds, augury) and ex dīrīs (from portents, or signs like violence, death, disease or accidents). Essentially, something would be experienced and a diviner would consider this event a precursor to something that was likely to occur in the near future. See: my post on self-fulfilling prophecies. The events are experiences as something that precludes future events, but it would be more accurate to say that the divination system, the methods under which they discerned the meanings of the omens is a construct, much like language.

Is there much of a difference between these ancient forms of auspice interpretation, and an individual seeing an opportunity in ambiguous information? I mean, we don’t know what will happen no matter how hopeful a situation seems. Both omens and opportunities are an example of the human mind deciding that current situations (sensory-information and interpretation of the data) mean that something else will happen. For good or ill.

Why do only some people see opportunity or disaster in the same location as their peers, while some see nothing at all? Because an opportunity isn’t something you find, or happen across. Its something that your brain constructs. Whether you receive the information via the unconscious intuition, or through rational plotting, the opportunity remains a construct. It is actively created by the human psyche. If you feel that your life is a desert of opportunity, consider that it is not opportunity that comes knocking, but we who knock.

Breaking bad reference.

~ Seth Moris

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *