Several weeks ago, I had been out hiking and had sat down and write. Looking up from my notebook—at the large outcrop across from me—I saw a group of friends trying to navigate their way to the top. I watched for several minutes as they tried several alternate routes, all of which got them no closer to the top.
Then—not accepting defeat, but rejecting it—they sat down on a spacious ledge and took in the view. I snapped a few pictures but one in particular was my favorite.
I’m not a graphic artist by any means, so I apologize for any shortcomings this image may have … but I hope you all enjoy it.
It was there for just an instant—a bright speck of light on the horizon.
I had been sitting, crossed-leg, my notebook on my knee, pen in hand. I looked up from my page–just for a moment—to take in the view. I was perched atop a great granite outcrop, high on a ridge.
My eyes swept over the landscape, from the mountains growing on the eastern horizon, and westward across the patchwork of farmland broken by green pine covering the ridges and ravines. And there it was. To the southwest, a flash of light.
There’s a highway there—a four lane artery that stretches to the south. The light came from where the road bends, just before dropping into a valley and disappearing into the shade.
I watched the area for a few minutes and the flash of light did not repeat itself.
It was likely just the sun being reflected off a windshield.
I wondered at the odds of that happening: for me to see light reflected off a windshield more than 10 miles away.
First, what are the odds that 70 million years ago a plume of intrusive magma—destined to be granite—would force its way into a thick layer of basalt? And what are the odds that between 12 and 15 thousand years ago glacial floods would eat away that basalt, exposing the several granite monoliths? And what are the odds that I would be sitting on top of one of those monolithic outcrops at that exact moment? Astronomical. That’s not to mention the fact that the sun was in the perfect position in the sky, given the angle of the car windshield. And let’s not forget I looked up just in time to see it.
This bright flash was something miraculous.
But even more miraculous … you. What are the odds of you existing? It took billions of years for stars to create the elements that you are made of. The earth only existed for a billion years before recognizable cells came into existence. Another 3.5 billion years and this planet saw mammals. Modern anatomical humans have only been around for a quarter million years, and in that history you can find the genetic material that you are harboring inside all of your cells.
Imagine a single change to this sequence of events, a sequence that spans billions of years—an inconceivable amount of time. A single change could have changed everything.
If the chances of me seeing that light were astronomical, that makes the probability of your existence … cosmic.
I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. — Agatha Christie
So life has been crazy the last few weeks. With Christmas and New Year’s, I have been working 80 hour weeks and have been having problems finding the time to write.
Sorry for the excuses, but I do have something for you … a poem. It’s short and simple, but full of meaning. You can find the original here and be sure to check out the other writings of Jackson Dean Chase.
It doesn’t have to be the right thing,
the perfect thing-
it just has to be some thing.
Something you mean to be good,
to matter to yourself, to others.
Doing that one thing
It moves you forward
into the Light.
—Jackson Dean Chase
I used to reject the notion of predestination … the concept was just a bit too religious for me.
But what if we view predestination not from the perspective of God, but from our own perspective?
Really, predestination means to determine your destination in advance. In the sense of an omniscient God, I had interpreted as him deciding for me. But what if it’s us? What if it’s our decisions that determine where we end up?
That’s empowering … but at the same time, frightening. What if we aren’t cognizant of these decisions … what if we fail to recognize how they will affect our lives further down the road? Then we fail to see with foresight … we will fail to meet our goals … we will fail to guide our lives in the direction we desire …
But if we are cognizant, we have a great influence over the course of our lives. We realize how every decision may affect our final destination, and can use that foresight to help inform our decisions.
Fate isn’t some concept that acts on the scale of infinity. It’s something that is formed day to day, month to month, year to year—we write our own fate. So when you think about predestination, remember that it is you who determines your final destination … so predestine wisely.
You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler. — Denis Waitley
Time is a measure of change — that’s all it is. Time doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If there’s nothing there — nothing changing — time stops. There is no time. How do you measure it? You can only measure it by change. So if nothing changes there is no time. And if a lot changes, time slows down… That’s the secret of experience… If you have a life full of change, full of novelty, full of interesting things, full of risk — because those things don’t come without risk — you live longer. I don’t care if you die when you’re 27, you live longer than the person who gets up and goes to work and puts in their 70 or 80 years and then croaks. You’ve lived longer. Not only more interesting, not only better, but actually longer, because time stretches for you. — Dr. Christopher Ryan (Tangentially Speaking ep. 79)
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. — J.P. Morgan
Half of the art of living is a talent for dying. — Huston Smith
Let fear be a counselor and not a jailer. — Tony Robbins