June 7, 2011: 1
This thought struck me when I was driving home on a November Saturday night this year after attending my 40th High School reunion. It had to do with luck and blind chance. Whatever I believe about my own choices and will power bringing me relatively unscathed through the past 40 years is, I think, mostly mythological.
In having spoken to ½ dozen men and women at the reunion whose personal lives seem difficult, or in thinking of two high school friends who are dead, my first thought is cautionary – there but for the grace of God or purely fortuitous chance or the correct blind choice go I or any of us. I came away with a strong sense of how many other lives had been possible for me. I have been extraordinarily blessed and just plain lucky.
This does not mean that talent and hard work doesn’t matter. It does. This does not mean that I think some kind of inevitable fate or destiny is at work in our lives (although I have seen that in kids’ lives time and time again – those who did not have the built-in advantages of good parents, a middle-class up-bringing, good educations, and being born during the most prosperous time in the American century; almost like characters from a Dreiser novel, some of the kids I have taught seemed doomed). No, I just think, more often than I have been aware, that I have sidestepped the worst traps, missed the most tragic connections, unthinkingly chosen the better path.
I wonder if humility isn’t the proper attitude for anyone who has reached 58 and possesses a good job and some measure of peace and family?
That is where I will begin this experiment in writing, in keeping engaged with the world, in trying to make sense of what I see and think and feel.