“May you live in interesting times…” — Chinese proverb
Depending on who you ask, the above could be a proverb or a curse. We certainly live in interesting times. Numerous thoughts danced in my head today as I considered the different things in the news. Obviously, most of the coverage is surrounding the election, Trump, and all of the crap surrounding the Bidens. Yet, another news item hit me this morning.
Sean Connery is dead. The news is not completely unexpected as he was 90 years old. Connery was the original James Bond. That’s what most people would remember him as. A few might remember him as a recurring character in SNL’s Celebrity Jeopardy. That’s obviously a more obscure reference.
Speaking of obscure references, we also found out that the coach that coached my alma mater’s basketball team has entered into hospice care. He is 85 years old. That sent a few of us into a tailspin where we started reminiscing about memories we had of the glory days of watching them play and him coach.
What do these events have in common? Everyone has their own answer, but they tell me one thing: there is so very little that we control. The illusion of control is one of those things all of us try to keep going in our daily life. We fool ourselves into thinking we can control the things that happen to us. If we are careful enough and good enough then we can stave off the disasters that seem to impact others.
Even when disaster finds us we often trick ourselves into thinking we are somehow responsible. As crazy as that sounds, blaming ourselves is much more comforting than not being in control. If we are fault then we can simply change our behavior and make things better. There certainly is truth to that to a certain degree, but we often take it to it’s logical extreme.
Most of the writers I have been reading have been talking about Tuesday. Some of them have the wisdom to understand that while Tuesday is important, there is so much more to life than what happens on Tuesday. Regardless of the results, we have gotten to where we are over the course of many years. Numerous decisions have brought us here and it will take a lot to turn things around. The fact that we won’t agree on what those things are is obviously an obstacle that will be hard to overcome.
May we live in interesting times. I suppose that will always be the case. Seeing those that played a significant role in our lives pass on is a reminder that all times are interesting in their own way. Some of those folks provide a shared experience for all of us and some of them are deeply personal. All of them play a role in shaping who we inevitably become.
Who we are is a jumbled combination of those that came before us, those that are with us and influence us, what we do with the time once we are here, and the potential each of us holds within ourselves. Each of us contain the capacity for ultimate goodness and ultimate evil. No one manages to achieve 100 percent achievement at either extreme. We are both. It comes down to the choices we make.
If we can control anything we can control those choices. In fact, we can only control the answers to those questions. We can’t even control the question. Tuesday is a choice, but it is only one choice. We have hundreds of choices every day that can help make the world a better place or not. We can choose to be a force for good or not. We can choose to make this world a better place or not. We can choose to take the talents we have been given to help others or not. We can choose to focus on those things we can’t control or we can focus on those things we can control. The choice is ultimately up to each of us. May we all live in interesting times.