This I Believe

Paul - Columbus, Ohio
Entered on August 29, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that destiny is more than an astrological reading; more than mere

genetic determinants; more than the socio-economic stratum into which one is born.

My parents were poor, by any measure of a numeric yardstick. Yet, they knew the

way forward which is so often alluded to of late. In 1956, they moved us from

Appalachia to Suburbia, on wing and prayer, with little more than a desire to

make a better life for their children. My father had no trade, no concrete job prospects,

a wife and two sons for whom to provide. So, he decided to become an electrician. He

had an eighth-grade education, was already entering middle age and knew little of the

theoretical background necessary to becoming a tradesman in the field he had chosen.

(Remember that word and its derivative, choice—I’ll come back to it .)

But he studied books and painstakingly learned about direct current, alternating

current, amperage, resistance and all of the other linguistic nuances of the electrician’s

creed. He became an apprentice at an age when most trades persons had already

established themselves and their families and had already begun to earn a living wage.

My brother and I watched this with little understanding of what was happening. He knew

more than I, of course, being nearly six years older than me…an early teenager, and

inquisitive on many counts. Even for brother Larry, the moment of what our parents had

undertaken did not come to fullness until many years had passed. Dad successfully

completed his apprenticeship and became a journeyman electrician—they carried

cards, you know—badges of honor and accomplishment. Mom and Dad had taken an

executive decision; had made a choice which would shape the destiny of us all.

I know it must have been frightful. He was the practical one, she the dreamer.

This is what we remember about them. I believe choice equals destiny. It may not

always be choice we make for ourselves, but it makes a demonstrative difference.

Would my brother and I have been who we are today, had our parents not taken

this leap of faith? Would we have grown to young men, gone to college, married

and become successful in our own right? I truly do not know. What I do know, however,

is that things would have been different. Not necessarily in a good way. Consider for

yourself choices you have made, choices made for you, choices which you did not

even realize you were making. Think then about whether destiny is written in the stars.

Your conclusions may surprise you.

I believe, no,better yet, I am certain of it: Choice equals destiny and both are

instruments of planning, conscious or otherwise. This is the First Permutation of Social

Infinity. In my book. Coming to your neighborhood bookstore soon.