Last Saturday turned out to be yet another failed attempt at a long run as Illiotibial band Syndrome continues to plague me. However, at the end of that not so wonderful afternoon, I had the pleasure of finally meeting an absolutely delightful person I had until then known only virtually. As we all know good company leads to good conversation, this meeting did not disappoint. After a spectacular vegan falafel (with Jalapeno Mint chutney ofcourse) and me rambling to her about the uncertainty of my future career plans, I sighed and said ‘Que Sera Sera’
Why do I mention all this? Because I’m always fascinated at the origins of all of my thought processes. How did I get here? It’s like that time when your discussing how peanuts are actually legumes and you wonder how this topic came about when just one minute ago you were discussing travel plans to go hiking. Travel plan-> what food should I carry -> peanut butter flavored cliff bars -> Did you know peanuts are not really nuts? -> Really?!? -> Nope, they’re actually legumes -> Wow, the Kale Runner that’s fascinating. You’re really smart. Okay, okay, that last sentence didn’t happen. But I am smart I promise.
Anyway, on the one day I did not ride my bike to work, sitting on the CT2 bus got me thinking. Whenever I get stressed about my future career path, I always end it by saying ‘Que Sera Sera’, whatever will be, will be. It’s a liberating feeling saying those three words. Ahhhh, but ‘Whatever will be, will be’! Destiny decides and I play no role in this decision. It’s fascinating how the human mind works. Coping with it’s own stresses by creating this notion of destiny. Suddenly the pressure is not on you. It’s really like a shot of Cortisol for the brain.
I mean, I don’t deny there is an element of luck involved in everything. Everything is not really in your control. But luck isn’t this force that plans things for you. It’s really our lack of knowledge on the “other” factors that define the outcome of a task.
The outcome of any task can be predicted to high degree of accuracy if all the factors that contribute to it are known. Let’s take a coin toss. There’s a 50% chance it goes heads. Now if I know the initial conditions of the coin toss such as position, velocity and angular momentum, I can to a very high degree predict the eventual outcome and not give it a simple 50% chance. My point being, without all this information, coin tosses essentially become a matter of luck.
While ‘Que Sera Sera’ let’s me cope with the pressures of shaping my future, it essentially means I’m leaving it to luck or in this case destiny. Random events between now and when I have the outcome would shape what career path I go down. Not very good science.
This essentially leads me to my main point about God. One of the biggest changes I noticed in my life, when I finally let go of the comforts of religion was that I finally had the power to shape the situations I was in. Previously at the first sign of trouble I turned to the big man upstairs to save me. As the Beatles wonderfully sung it, I ‘Let it be’. As most religions ask you to do, I surrendered. I essentially gave up and rolled a dice hoping for that double six.
Now that I’m wiser, or atleast I think I am, I stand up and think of ways to stack the odds in my favor. This mess is mine, and only I can actually fix it. The outcome may not always be favorable, but I sure as hell have increased my odds of success with this approach. One side effect I must warn you about is the lack of that cortisol shot for the mind, especially in times of failure. While others will have the comforts of thinking God did not have it in his or her will for them to be successful and that he or she has a plan for you, I’m perfectly okay with beating myself up and hoping I do better the next time. I make my own plans.
I will add that I will not condemn religion. I promise you I’m not playing it safe so as to not upset the person upstairs. I do this because as any good scientist should accept there’s always the possibility that one is ignorant about this issue. As Yuval Noah Harari aptly put in the book Sapiens –
“Modern science is based on the Latin injunction ignoramus – ‘we do not know’. It assumes that we don’t know everything. Even more critically, it accepts that the things that we think we know could be proven wrong as we gain more knowledge. No concept, idea or theory is sacred and beyond challenge.”
For now, I will go with what seems more logical. I will play the role of fate, prepare myself well and stack the odds in my favor to compensate for uncertainties. I won’t just ‘Let it be’. Time to enjoy the rest of this dreadfully rainy Tuesday sipping on some amazing Gingerbread Soy Cappuccino.
The Kale Runner (TKR)