Why am I here?

So quickly it seems the time has come for me to address the second of Life’s Biggest Questions.  It’s yet another ageless question to which countless answers have been offered: Why am I here?

Why is this person called Bill where he is today?

I am reminded of the Big Pull Back sequence at the start of the 1997 film Contact.   From a close-up shot of a young girl’s eye, the camera appears to pull back farther and farther, revealing in turn the girl, her house, her neighborhood, her hometown,…then the earth, the solar system, our galactic “backyard,” other galaxies,….

As what is near and familiar vanishes in the distance, the vastness of the universe fills the screen.   Are you with me?  You might well ask, “What does that have to do with why you are here?”  A fair question.

To start with, I am where I am largely by choice, or rather, as a result of innumerable choices.  Some of these choices have been my own.  Others were made by persons closely connected to me: my wife and daughter, my bosses and co-workers, my parents and brothers, my teachers and mentors, my rivals and adversaries,…the list goes on and on.  Each of these persons’ lives was shaped by the choices of others near to and far from them.

Long before these arrived on the scene, there lived innumerable generations of individuals and families in many towns and villages sprinkled around the globe.  These people made choices, the outcomes of which sent them, along with those who came with and after them, in new and often unexpected vectors.

Sensing a theme here?  Some have called it contingency.  Every person, everything that is and has been, has emerged from and been largely defined by outcomes and occurrences that preceded them.  A large percentage of these outcomes and occurrences were unanticipated, to be sure.  It is to some extent random and chaotic, on several levels, but it isn’t all chance and happenstance.  Nor do simplistic notions of cause-and-effect suffice.  Yet precedents have played various roles in determining consequents and subsequents.

I am here as a result of countless decisions and events, the vast majority of which predate me and over which neither I nor anyone I have ever known had any control.  And that’s all right.  I’m essentially good with that.  It’s cool to be here.  Existence is a plus.  Life is good, even with all the pain and suffering and, yes, death that’s very much a part of it.

I am here.  And I am content with that.


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