Theory: Life is not like a box of chocolates because somewhere we do know what we're gonna get.
The assumption: A great assembly line manufacturing system for all living things. This is what controls evolution, growth, genetics, etc. And yes, this is the only place where you have free will... kinda.
Here's what i think. Every time we hit the Pearly Gates, we renew our membership to the greatest freeloading party in the sky. There is an all-you-can-consume buffet of values that you can be born with. However, the only catch is the slightly bitter aftertaste that every succulent morsel leaves behind.
A dear friend of mine - Vinter - asked me, "Where is my sexy pool-boy and the rich but mostly absent husband who adores me and buys me lots of sparkly things?" This was just another question meant to float into the rhetorical cybervoid - but then it met me. And i tried to put my theory to the test.
I told her - because it wasn't the birth value you chose, for whatever reason. She, understandably, gaped at me uncomprehendingly.
"Of all the birth values available to you (subject to a hypothetical upper limit of 5), you picked the ones which precluded the pool, the pool boy and the rich husband."
"what should i have picked then?"
"Maybe a lower IQ and blonde hair?"
"That sounds fine, if the pool, the boy and the rich husband were the consequences. Everybody would pick that then."
"Well no... you see, if you picked blonde + 85 IQ, maybe you would have to factor in a poor upbringing, with atleast one abusive parent, a string of one-night-stands and multiple heartbreaks with atleast three pregnancies, finally ending with a rich husband who buys you sparkly things but also cheats on you - with animals - and a pool boy who is robbing you of those sparkly things..."
"Eww.... ok.. so what if i picked blonde and smart?"
"You understand that this isn't the definitive answer, right? I'm sure the real process is a lot more complicated and subtle..."
"Yes yes, but what can possibly be the flip side of being beautiful, intelligent, rich and talented?"
"Hmm. You could be stuck in a wheelchair due to a degenerative muscular disorder, your existence limited by how far the cable from the emergency crash cart goes; or you could be a healthy specimen too, but with a nasty temperament, no friends, doomed to live and die alone in your palace... maybe."
"So what did i pick, then?"
"Well, i don't know. But whatever it is that you picked, you probably picked it because they were the best of the choices available to you, the consequences of which were also palatable."
"A career stuck in reverse gear, no love life, and a weight problem... and these were the best choices available to me??"
"No, the choices available to you were loving parents, a childhood spent on the beaches of Goa, enough money to live comfortably, a prodigal literary talent and a constant support group of friends...."
"What you do with those things is ofcourse entirely upto you."
"I guess between receiving the birth values and returning to the great buffet in the sky is where Life happens."
"Yeah, and maybe here is where you learn to be a lot more specific about what you want your birth values to be... thus being able to thwart or atleast limit the consequences thereof... "
"A little like being trained to look for the loophole."
"Yes. Exactly. And learning to be aware that there is always a loophole. There's a reason why the House always wins."
"What would be the perfect balance then?"
"If I knew, I'd be on the management side of this whole production."
"So... we're all employees, trying not to get too badly screwed?"
"Yep, and with every try, like with every new job offer, we learn a little bit more about the carefully negotiated legal contract... and become a little clearer about what we definitely want in our benefits package and the ways and means of avoiding the tax liability."