Inevitable discovery is a term I learned from watching too much Law & Order. Although the concept has a specific definition in legal circles, there’s an underlying idea that I guess could be analogous to the notion of fate.

If a set of circumstances would have prevented an outcome from happening, could it still eventually happen through the normal course of events?

Today, I am a web developer at a technology company. I became a web developer because I saw limited opportunities at my former newspaper job. I ended up at the paper because of an internship program to which I was accepted after college. I applied for the internship because I was confident my experience with the college daily paper prepared me. I worked at the paper because I was encouraged to pursue journalism as a course of study. I studied journalism because a number of people saw I had a talent for it.

One of those people was Robin J. Gould. She taught the first journalism course I took in college. She served as adviser for the student newspaper during the two years I was working as desk editor. She was, in short, my rabbi. (Another term I learned from Law & Order.) We lived through a lot of bullshit bureaucratic drama, thus developing a kinship based as much on survival as common interest.

She passed away in the last few weeks.

There are people you met who alter the course of your lives. I had dreams of being a composer, but my disenchantment with my music studies led me to journalism. RG, as she was known by her friends, was one such influence.

So it has me thinking about inevitable discovery. If the chain of events that happened in the wake of my meeting RG never happened, would I end up at the same place in some surreptitious manner? If I think about too deeply, I might start pondering quantum mechanics and string theory, which I am ill-equipped to do.

The fact is I am where I am because RG tipped me in that direction.

If inevitable discovery is part of human nature, it makes me wonder about the young people — her future students — who had yet to meet RG and the direction their lives might have taken. Who would take on that role now that she is gone?