The passage of time is often compared to a river which flows, one assumes, from the shallow spawning pools of birth down to the inevitable oblivion of the sea. A river traces a set path originally defined by geography but often altered by mankind. This image is about as useful as any metaphor at describing reality (i.e. garbage) but it does have a modicum of relevance when applied to certain specific kinds of lives lived by certain specific kinds of people.
Consider the average Kennedy – he is launched from his privileged womb into a life that has all the surprises and spontaneity of a “Pirates Of The Carribean” boat ride. Beginning with the High Pressure Emotionally Distant Infancy, he flows into the Bouts of Wretched Adolescent Excess, followed by a short anchorage at Forced Rich Guy Rehab prompted by the inevitable Youthful Screw Up . Restocked and restored, he continues on into Family Sponsored Electoral Sinecure or Other Wealthy Non-Meritocratic Situation, in which he performs with varying degrees of mediocrity depending on how many more times he is forced to drop anchor at aforementioned Forced Rich Guy Rehab, often finishing up with Rich-Guy Death At The Hands Of His Toys (foreign cars, skis, planes, designer drugs, single malt whiskey).
No, life is not a common journey down a single river; life is a multitude of individual trips down a vast number of parallel courses. Just as one may choose between hundreds of vacation cruise lines, one chooses (knowingly or not) a particular channel and ventures forth upon the waters. Which prompts a question: if there were a catalog, what would it look like? Perhaps this?
Okay, perhaps not. That was eight hours on Photoshop wasted.