January One, Two Thousand Seven. Well, here we are.
Can you tie together every event, every sequence which, moving like a great glacier, has brought you to this exact spot at this exact time?
No? Me either, but, here we are.
Tiny forces and overwhelming forces, decisions, revisions, great determination and meek acceptance, people and events, triumph and tragedy -- all have had their influence.
The random odds of birth and the fortune (good or ill) of navigating Life's labyrinth have played crucial roles, and the sum total is: here we are.
The Natural World hates a void. For better or worse, the requirements to fill it are simple.
Facts, events and occurrences fill the open spaces and demand little definition or explanation. You and I are the sum total of "stuff." Everyone's stuff is totally different.
We may well say, "I earned every step up along the way. I used superior talent and ingenuity. I outworked and out-thought every challenger. I deserve my place."
No one can argue the point, whatever that "place" might be. You and I are where we are due to an infinite sequence of circumstances some of which we actually had some control over. Not as much as we probably think, though. To be at Point "A", you had first to be at Point "B" and before that Point "C" and on and on. Timing determined as much of the process as anything.
Let's say you graduated first in your class at Wharton Business School and were immediately offered a prestigious post as undersecretary in the U.S. Treasury Department -- rarified circumstances, of course. You took a brief vacation to Aspen for a week of skiing, well earned. On a Black Diamond run, your left ski caught on a submerged rock and you were thrown, twisted and landed badly. Your next few years were then spent in an attempt to walk. Your breathing had to be assisted. True story.
You were a phenomenal major league baseball player, probably the best hitter of all time.
In your absolute prime, you were taken from the game and sent by your government to fight in a controversial "war" halfway around the world. You served with distinction and came back to baseball as good as ever, maybe better. Later, you were called again to serve, and you went, leaving behind one of the best records ever achieved in the game.
Once again, you served well and even earned some medals. For a last time, you came back to baseball and played as well, maybe better than most "hot-shot" rookies, although you were beginning to show signs of aging. You finally ended your career by hitting a home run on your very last time at bat. Great stuff, but what of the many years taken away?
Perhaps you were a brilliant, but bored young college student fascinated by a new technology where information could be digitalized and transmitted instantly. The possibilities seemed endless to you, but one of the biggest corporations in America was already interested and saw this as a way to sell its new machines. You dropped out of college and developed something called "software" to operate these machines, and you convinced some of the most powerful businessmen in the world to buy your product.
A brilliant and successful man's career is cut off by a freak accident. A talented athlete is denied his best years because of outside forces. A young college dropout will become the richest man in the world. What were the odds?
An old television program once opened with an announcer saying, "There are a million stories in the big city," and each week they told one. It was a top-rated show for a while.
I don't think they ever got around to telling every story, but the ones the did tell were fascinating. Just think of all those never told. Everyone has a story.
My Daddy used to repeat an old cliché, "Wherever you go, there you are." By this he meant, "The Person is more important than the Position."
An enlightened person will develop reasonable, rational and comprehensible positions. Look to rational and reasonable individuals for good decisions. Early computer syntax explained it: "Garbage In, Garbage Out."
In this new year and going forward, let us all understand that the future is only a heartbeat away, and, if we are to influence it in some miniscule way, we must at least have a positive plan. Perhaps we have no influence whatsoever. I believe we must assume that we have. Whatever the case, let us all, at least, use whatever influence we can muster to make this a better world. Wherever we go, there we are. The world needs our best efforts.
Happy New Year!