Learning From Friends
I have a friend in his eighties who insists that he is here because his grandfather broke his leg when he was a child. I know, I know, that’s hard to follow. I don’t know why he is fixated on something that happened to his grandfather as a child as the pivotal event–he hasn’t ever really explained that clearly–but his point is valid. Things happen that lead to other things that lead to other things and suddenly you realize that life has changed course. I have another friend, Sharon Short, who has written a great book, One Square Inch of Alaska. (It is a delightful read and I highly recommend it.) Woven through her story is the idea that we all make small decisions, sometimes what seem to be inconsequential decisions, that lead to important life events. Both of these are true. Events and decisions lead to the the lives we lead.
We can plan and plan and plan our lives, and then decide to eat at one restaurant rather than another and meet someone who absolutely blows all those plans out of the water. It’s really fun to think about it. Look at your life. What were those events and decisions that altered the course of your life? Did someone say something to you? Did you meet someone? Did you try something, or not try something? Did you go somewhere? Did you take an opportunity? Or not?
Does that mean that you shouldn’t plan? No. Planning and subsequent actions are good. Being adaptive, however, is probably the most important skill that can help us with our serendipitous lives.