Bob’s sister Shelley posted the You Tube of Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford commencement address. It was insightful, well worded, and concise. If you haven’t seen it played on FB or via email in the past few days, I’d be surprised. It left me thinking which is something I like doing after I shut the book or turn off the computer. I’ve been considering the phrase “connect the dots” and thinking how it applies to me.
Jobs was speaking about his experience as a lurker in college when he sat in on classes. One of the classes he informally audited was Calligraphy and it was that class that inspired the creative, beautiful fonts I enjoy on today’s computer. He had no idea what that class would lead to; it was something he liked and it was later that its purpose came into play.
Soren Kierkegaard said that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Could that be what connecting the dots means? Living forward and looking backwards, I mean. Hard not to trip myself up if I did that too much.
Sophia connects the dots in pre-k. If she connects the dots in a specific pattern, she gets a picture. At 5, that means 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C. It isn’t random; it’s exact. If she deviates from the expected, she doesn’t get the expected result. Steve Jobs went off the planned path. His parents planned for him to finish an engineering curriculum and go to work in the engineering/architectural field.
The unexpected yielded fresh results.
Does that mean that I should look at past dots to find a pattern? How will I know which dots are really dots and not a dead gnat or paper imperfections? How will I know which dots are relevant? Will understanding the pattern help me figure out how to move forward? What if it’s like one of those ink-blots that look like a butterfly unless you are some pervy nut case and think it’s a body part?
I’m coming up on a birthday and the realization that I’m not immortal is a little daunting. A little daunting? Ha! Knowing that I’ve lived more than half my life, statistically about 75% of my life, is a little weirding. I’ve been non-conformist on most things but I will probably be right on the money with that lifespan thing.
So, what if I am? One of the 9th step promises in AA is that “we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” I’ve found in sobriety that my past is one of my strengths. It helps me know that nothing is permanent. Not love, not anger, not pain, not youth, not sadness, not joy. No job or marriage will last forever. Somebody’s going to say goodbye eventually.
Do I need to examine my life to find the dots? I think I might. I think I will. And maybe instead of an ice cream cone, I’ll get dinosaur teeth…or an accordion. Even with a few dots, the possibilities are endless.