Friends, prompted by curious, started grilling me about some of my past life the other night. Those were my super-secret military days.
Since their questioning, I’ve drifted along currents of wonder about living amidst change and how small our windows of knowledge truly seem. Change is fast and constant. The military commands I worked in thirty years ago no longer exist; the weapons systems introduced during my career are being retired. Bases have been shuttered. They’re trying to retire the nukes I once controlled (a good thing, in my mind). God knows what’s going on in space.
I ended up in a medical start-up after my military career, first in sales operations, running customer service and spewing out reports about sales trends. We were part of a nascent business, per-cutaneous transvascular coronary angioplasty, moving into stent delivering systems for coronary applications and radiation therapy to cope with re-stenosis. After that, I moved on to another company in search of ways to cope with chronic total occlusions.
Life found me in Internet and computer security in my next phase, and then onto analytics. Whatever. I drifted through choices, jumping through windows when the opportunities arose, and was fortunate to have someone on the other side of those windows to pull me in and show me around.
The windows in our lives are always so small. They open and close so quickly. Technology accelerates the speed with which the windows open and close. For examples, consider how we now conduct war versus how it was conducted in decades and centuries past. Consider how we make, experience and enjoy music, and how we entertain ourselves. Yet, each window and moment is treated as though this is a permanent solution. Consider the plight of the coal industry, for example. They think it can be legislated back but technology and market forces have moved past them.
We, as humans, can only see and understand so far, and we argue and debate about what we see, what it means and what we need to do about it. Yet, each person’s life is defined by their personal windows. These are shaped by their culture, heritage, education, genetics and personal experiences, yes, but they’re also shaped by much larger forces. We often barely glimpse the shadow of such forces.
Sometimes – no, hell, often – I think we’re going around understanding the world backward; we believe reality shapes us, and we investigate how we shape it.
Maybe we shape reality. Maybe there is no past or future, there is only the window into Now.
Jump through it and keep on going.