I’ve been thinking a lot lately of what it is that I was meant to do. I always ponder this, its a regular reflection, but lately the question, instead of a quiet gnawing one, is clanging with cymbals at regular intervals. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button explores how our life would be if we lived it backwards, hindsight being 20/20 after all. If we could know the end of our destination wouldn’t we better decide our present? But we don’t live our life backwards, we live it walking forwards, making choices along the way which pave an uncertain future.
Enter Steve Jobs, CEO of Mac. Tee shared his Stanford commencement address in which he spoke of dropping out of college and taking calligraphy classes for fun. He made a series of choices which he did not fully understand, and certainly never thought would shape his future:
If I had never dropped in on that [calligraphy] course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
Looking back on my life to this point, I can certainly see this to be true in many instances. I must trust that dots will connect, the purpose of seemingly random happenstance and events, all abundantly clear just a bit further down the road.
*Updated* Adnan addressed a point I forgot to mention:
but don’t you think it works both ways? That sometimes the dots don’t connect. and you’re left empty? for the people that the dots did connect, they’ll say, “his approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” i wonder what the people for whom the dot didn’t connect would say…
Good point. I believe dots connect but we must ready to work for those dots and work to connect them. If Jobs took the calligraphy class, went to engineering school and didn’t pursue it, then yes, that dot wouldn’t connect. This works for those I believe who are conscious, and continue to strive for their goals. Though the dots may not connect in ways that we anticipate, they do if we are looking for it, and are actively working towards our dreams. For instance, I want to be a published novelist, and I’m working towards that dream. I may never reach that dream and think back and think the dots relating to it were empty, but perhaps my someday child will have my writing bug, and will pen the next Great American Novel. Perhaps the few readers looking at my manuscript will be inspired to do something different as a result bringing a change into the world. The perhaps are endless, but just because I don’t see the connection doesn’t make it not there. Again, just speculation since this is a new thought and I’m still processing, but that is how it makes sense to me.