From Denzel to Twain
I would like to say that this quote has stayed with me based on my long history of familiarity with the literary greats and shaped by years of studying philosophy, but the truth is that I saw it during the opening scene for the Denzel Washington flick “The Equalizer” this weekend with my son. For those who may be familiar with my (lack of) reading habits as a youth, unless it was in Cliff Notes, my wisdoms generally came from TV or movies.
I love this quote. As an oft-described “over-analyzer/over-thinker”, the question of what the whole reason I’m here is something I have and will always struggle with. I am still waiting for the day i find out why.
I remember taking a very tough quantitative evolution class in college for a biology elective. The entire class was a mathematical look into understanding survival of species and making predictions based on how one outcome could affect an entire ecosystem.
During one exam, there was a problem where we were given the evolutionary tree and biological impact of a koala and a cockroach. Based on the facts, we had to predict the outcomes of choosing the extinction of one over the other. I am not sure how many cockroach lovers there are out there, but suffice it to say that if you were going to make the choice that had the most significant impact on other species and the entire ecosystem, the koala was going to have to bite it. Say goodbye to one of the cutest Australian exports since Elle Macpherson.
The cockroach has a clear purpose – believe it or not – just like fava beans, Adam Sandler movies and Cher. But what is my real purpose? As someone who believes in science, I am not sure that there really was one specific for me, as opposed to the species. And if that’s the case, well, it really could have been anyone.
I do look at my kids and feel in some way that regardless of the current situation we all find ourselves in, their talents, humor and brains were meant to make a difference on this planet somehow and perhaps, that was my purpose – to help in their creation. But truthfully, what parent wouldn’t feel that way? And they’re still young. After the umpteenth time of my son clogging the toilet, I can be easily persuaded otherwise.
Personally, I do like to think that paying attention to our surroundings daily will eventually help each of us stumble upon why we are here. It may not be one reason. It may be a 1,000 little reasons. You’ve heard the story about some stranger who just happened to smile at a passerby and that one act of kindness changed her whole disposition of the day. Maybe that one act caused that person to do something or act in a way that she otherwise wouldn’t have and started a chain reaction of other smaller events. I like to believe in that and I think it’s real.
This, to me, is what the “Random Acts of Kindness” movement is really about. It is too much pressure, (for me, anyway), to think about my purpose and whether it is random or not. I can, however, believe in the fact that through the act of trying to figure it out positively, it may help lead to the answer of why we are here. If it’s not to help, connect and evolve, than what is it all for?
If I could be a former CIA operative like Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer, it would be so much simpler. But I’m just another over thinker with a bad shot.
Until next time,