Connecting the DotsApril 09, 2023
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. - Steve Jobs
We are creatures of faith.
I'm not making some religious statement here, but merely a statement of fact. We get up in the morning and go about our routines with the belief that they are going to lead to some desired outcome.
We might read news items where people walked out their front door and were robbed, hit by a car, or even killed. Hardly routine, and certainly not the expected end result of their daily routine.
As I write this, I recall the founder of Cash App was recently stabbed to death in San Francisco. He'd moved his family out of San Francisco to Miami only a few months earlier, because he felt the energy of Silicone Valley was gone (largely due to the crime problem). He had just flown in for business, I guess, and met his end.
So, where am I going in this post after such a gloomy opening?
Generally speaking, we're creatures of habit. And those habits allow us to slip rather effortlessly through our days and our lives. We get up, we take a shower, have our coffee or tea, get ready for the day, whether work or whatever; and it all keeps moving along until we turn off the lights to sleep again at the end.
And so goes life for good or ill.
As Jobs says, we "have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in [our] future." That is, our life activities makes sense. We sense a purpose to it all.
Of course, to make sense assumes you have some idea why you're doing what you're doing. This is not a given these days for many in western society as evidenced by the rates of suicide, surveys of life (dis)satisfaction and increasing levels in various addictions, including drug overdoses/deaths.
The world is not in a pretty place these days. A reason to live life au naturel seems missing.
Mark Twain is credited with the statement, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
Why were we born? Why are we here? Most of us don't even ask the question.
What connects the dots of our lives?
We tend to make sense of our lives in retrospect, adding this or that meaning to past events, even to a series of events. We will ascribe it all to God's will, bad luck, fate, Karma or who knows what.
The point is that we connect the dots - we have to. Each day we get up and move through the days, weeks and years is an act of faith. Faith that the dots connect, however chaotic any given day or period of life is.
Even a line from the old song from the 60s TV show Hee Haw offers some solace to a bleak string of events: "if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." We have to have some explanation of our lives, even if its a downright depressing one.
Jobs recognized that life is lived looking forward. Risks are taken on in the hope that they will make sense in the end. We hopefully are living with the anticipation of things to come - good things. Good things don't always come, of course.
On the other hand, if we see our life as random, without meaning or purpose, we're in trouble. What is the point of living if we'd can't see a good end in the string of activity we call life?
I mean, let's not pretend life is always easy. There's heartache, trouble, disappointment and loss, as well.
Again, why get up in the morning and believe? Anticipate? Strive?
Because we are creatures of faith.
The apostle Paul described it well in Hebrews 11:1 of the Christian Bible: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Go forth and create dots. Makes little sense worrying about dots you haven't created yet. They will connect. They always do.