This Experiment Called Life

Everybody knows that our fingerprints are one of a kind.  There is no other person in this world with the exact same patterns, not even identical twins.

Everything that we are, is one of a kind.

What are you made of?

I am my mother’s large hands and feet, long neck, and almond-shaped eyes.  I am my father’s large teeth, bushy eyebrows, height, and big smile.  My siblings have some of the same, but also inherited some different characteristics.  For example, two siblings have oval-shaped fingernails like my mom, while the other two have square nails like my dad.

So, physically, we are all different.  To top it off, there is no one else with the same name, birthday or birth time, borne in the same city.  True?

It would be only logical, then, that no one else can lead the same life we do. (And vice versa.)  No one else can think the thoughts we think, write the words exactly the same, or even kiss someone else predictably.

And yet, we are often caught wondering how Jane got where she did, or what happened to Jack?  How we ended up “here” and, in some cases, how do we get back?  How can we change things, from the person who is unhappily married to the person who never got married?

Robert Frost said it best, “and I, I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”.

If there are five thousand people, there will be five thousand roads.  One million people…one million roads.  Every road is custom-made, just as every person is custom-made from their parents, their environs, their experiences, and their choices.  My kids have asked, from time to time, “What would I be doing if I didn’t have them?”  The only answer I have is pure honesty, “I have no idea”.  It is a road I did not take and I can’t see down a different path. (What I think is that I’d be living in a penthouse, driving a beemer.)

We can no more prescribe the outcome than we can dictate the past.  Or in more common terms, “it is what it is.”

Scientists, researchers, even computer programmers all know that you must reproduce circumstances and get the same exact result before you can successfully finish an experiment or solve a technical problem.  It has to be ‘proven’ more than once.

I am reminded of Jurassic Park, where Jeff Goldblum talks about chaos theory with Laura Dern and says that two identical actions will never have the same reaction.  And then he puts a droplet of water on top of her hand and they flirtingly watch it roll down one way, and then another goes another way, even though nothing had changed.  It may be TV science, but I think it holds true.

Life is just one big, long-lasting experiment that 6 billion people are doing at the same time.   Sometimes we affect only ourselves, but more often, our experiments involve others who are in the midst of their own experiments.

There are no precedents, no guidebooks, no manuals.  We do what we think is best at the moment we are faced with the need to decide.  And then we see what happens.

Scientists have the right idea.  We should test it, play with it, massage and meld and measure it.  We should try new things; we should adjust.  And if we like what we see, continue.  If not, change.  Sometimes even scrap it, and start over.

So, what have I proven?



This experiment called life is not reproducible, not containable, not explicable.
It is uncertain.



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