I saw a particularly irritating posting on Facebook today. At the time of writing, it had been shared two and a half thousand times, and liked nine thousand times. A dreamy photograph of a couple on a bench, with the Golden Gate Bridge (I think) in the far distance. The caption read "Once in a lifetime you meet someone who changes everything..."
Almost inexplicably, I found this intensely irritating, probably because it's a load of rubbish. I understand the sentiment it's trying to convey, and it's superficially OK if you regard it from a certain perspective, but really it's appealing to a very specific audience - presumably, people who are waiting for Mr or Mrs Right to come along. I have a number of problems with this.
Firstly, what if Mr/Mrs Right comes along and then goes and dies on you, or runs off with the next door neighbour? Yes, that person has certainly changed everything. However, in those circumstances I'd like another Mr/Mrs Right to come along please, so definitely not once in a lifetime. On the basis of the statement, I've probably had my life changing meeting, so basically I'm screwed for the next 20 or 30 years or however long I last.
Secondly, if you take the statement literally, you could include serial killers, drunk drivers or even good/bad bosses on the list.
Finally, I'm personally of the opinion that you make life changing decisions every day. Every time you cross the road, for example. Every interaction changes you a little. Life is not predetermined and dependent on huge one-off events or meetings with particular individuals. Life is complex and intertwined with others', is unpredictable and ever changing (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse), and to some extent can be steered through your own efforts and attitude to life. This is fundamentally why I find the statement irritating.
I want "once in a lifetime" things to happen every day, otherwise life is pretty boring.