Sometimes the things we are trying to avoid are the very things we might benefit to confront. A good example of this is found in my best friend M-, who has a great job supporting a high-net-worth humanitarian whose goal is to be the largest donor ever to walk the face of the earth. I know all the details of the position because I know the humanitarian, the goal, and because I made the connection for my friend.
When reviewing the whole process from the point of today, one would be faced with a few ironies. The most important is that I met M- as a result of his failure to avoid a woman named T-, who just happened to be a girlfriend of mine from more than 32 years ago, and with whom I have always kept in touch. Thus the probability of meeting him through her, given that they both migrated from different states to a new one at different times on the other side of the earth from me, and that he was trying to avoid her after meeting her once, was very low. The second irony is that the job he would eventually get didn’t even exist at the time we first met, meaning the probability of his getting it then was 0.
In space 8,194 miles lie between Phoenix, Arizona and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and in time 32+ years and 11,680 turns of the earth stretched between us all. I am fascinated by the statistical improbability of any connecting pieces, how that someone I fell in love with on a hayride one blustery October night in Ohio, would find her way years later to Phoenix, where more years later she would bump into a guy from California, who was doing his best to avoid any more such bumpings into, only to fail and later be introduced to an Ohio guy working in Riyadh, but with a home in Thailand. How this one hayride through an Ohio forest would so many years later become so important for so many people, ultimately millions upon millions of the world’s poorest. How at every step along the way we were all oblivious to any of our possible outcomes, the multiplicity of connections, each just trying to find his and her own way, doing whatever it took to get by, a professor, an artist, a grad school dropout, three wanderers, 32+ years, 40 countries, tens of thousands of people, trillions of interactions, and finally a connection that joins the smallest to the biggest, and who knows which is which, and who is who.
That’s not to say probabilities’ unknown outcomes are easy to live with. No small amount of anguish has elapsed in those 32+ years between the falling in love, its subsequent effect on me, and the signing of a contract for M-. The number of dark nights, lost loves, broken hearts, battered dreams, tears, bloodshed, desperation. There was laughter too, many hugs, a frolicking puppy or more, grand vistas, a chorus of wind heard in power lines over the Beartooth Highway. I never saw “c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate” like Roy Batty, but I did see a city burn to the ground in Lesotho, and hear bullets whizz past my head.
Out there somewhere there’s another miraculous connection to be made in our lives, threads to be woven in the grand tapestry of us. Let’s not be fooled by the small size, undesirability or improbability of any visible thread. It’s very likely that what is small and visible on this side, opens huge and remarkable doors on the other.
And who knows which is which, and who is who.