Serendipity

I ran into my second-grade teacher yesterday.  We chatted for a moment; quite pleasant.  She said something that gave me pause, though:  “I always knew you’d be successful.”

Well, now.

I suppose, all things being equal, that I’m not doing too bad.  I have a roof over my head in a rather pleasant apartment complex.  I have clothes to wear, food to eat, and a happy vehicle to drive.  Life is good, I suppose, even though I often wonder about what might be, had I not made certain decisions in my youth.

And yet, decide I did.  And although certain doors were closed to me, others were opened, and I don’t think I have paid sufficient attention to the good while I lamented the bad.

It’s humbling, though, to realize just how much of my background is dependent on sheer luck:

  • The defining aspect of my undergraduate years was my involvement first in the student government at Western Michigan University (the Western Student Association), and then my time at various appointments at the Western Herald.  Yet had it not been for a random call from the WSA chief of operations to join the student government leadership for a retreat (before I had even stepped foot in a classroom as a college student), I never would have participated.
  • My volunteer work at church would never have happened had I not received a casual invitation from the guy who would eventually become our deacon, to join in lay liturgical service.
  • Had it not been for a series of short-term temp jobs, I would not have been qualified for my current job — nor would I have thought that I could do what I’m actually doing.
  • My interest in ethics, the field in which I actually earned my degree, was originally raised through casual conversation about “superenlightened egoism.” 
  • Without my friend Duane, I probably would not have actually done anything — except think wistfully — about my writing.

My comfort is a function of my luck; there is a great deal of truth, methinks, to the “accidental hero” version of history.  Although I have capitalized in certain ways upon the luck that has befallen me, I am acutely aware that I haven’t really earned most of what I have.

I’m lucky.  But at least I know it.

Jason’s groupies

This morning, I received a faux-cranky e-mail from my friend and beloved co-worker, Diane, expressing concern that she searched this site for her name only to find no matches. Well, shame on me for the oversight.  Diane, Diane, Diane.  And, for the record, Shannon.  There.  That should do it.

Continue Reading

Jason's groupies

This morning, I received a faux-cranky e-mail from my friend and beloved co-worker, Diane, expressing concern that she searched this site for her name only to find no matches. Well, shame on me for the oversight.  Diane, Diane, Diane.  And, for the record, Shannon.  There.  That should do it.

Continue Reading

Superficiality

Last July, I went through phase one of my “Jason makeover.”  At that point, I had lost about 70 pounds, and decided it was time to update a few things.  Like replacing my ancient glasses with contacts and morphing the boring side-part hairstyle I had since the seventh grade into a stylist-recommended contemporary style complete […]

Continue Reading

New wheels

On a frigid day in January, 2001, I purchased a new car.  It was a 2001 Kia Sephia, black, with none of the fancy options.  Although the Sephia was a reliable little car, it was … well, a little car.  With none of the fancy options.  And in the five years I drove it, I […]

Continue Reading

Book browsing

I had an interesting experience this afternoon.  While browsing at a local bookstore, I lingered for a while in the current-events section.  It’s always fun to see the latest polemic du jour, and I was not disappointed with the selection of throw-away titles that promised to tell the “real truth” about the Iraq war or […]

Continue Reading

WWFD?

I’ve lately grown into the habit of working on my writing-related work from a local coffee shop.  It’s refreshing to get away from the distractions of home; at the coffee shop, I can simply plug in and type.  With mocha and free wireless Internet.  Heavenly. Occasionally, this new venue provides ample fodder for the people-watcher […]

Continue Reading

Lent has arrived

Part of the wisdom of Catholicism is the opportunity the Church extends to the People of God to deepen their faith through the mechanism of the liturgical year.  Lent has returned, and at Ash Wednesday, we are challenged to resist Lent’s derogation into the merely routine, and to grow in faith and in wisdom despite […]

Continue Reading

Simulated lessons

Off and on over the last four years, I have participated in online political simulations — either based on some sort of Web forum, or through Yahoo! Groups.  I was originally attracted to the idea because I thought the sims would provide an interesting counterpoint to the conventional wisdom of political scientists, about the structure […]

Continue Reading

Buyer, beware

I admit it: I do a lot of Internet-related transactions.  I purchase and sell things on eBay; I buy products from Web-based merchants; I purchase subscriptions for online services.  And I usually don’t have too much trouble. But last week was different.  In the space of two days, I was hit with three unexpected transactions […]

Continue Reading