I am still absorbing the significance of that book. Eight-year-old me wanted to be a famous astronomer like Einstein. Everyone knew who he was. Not many people know who Joe Taylor is, and he’s about as famous as any other Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist. So maybe if I had gone down that road, I would have done something to win such an award, such honours, such acclaim. Or not.
Our crowded world of 10 billion people probably has a million people in it who are at least as smart as me, or smarter. They go about their lives with grace and dignity, some of them, or with ego and spleen, or drugs and alcohol, or some other distraction. The point is, the world consumes geniuses to fuel its intellectual capital production machine. We struggle, labour, and bear fruit in the form of new ideas: new ways for the burgeoning glut of human lives to go on expanding, redefining the limits to growth, pushing off the foretold collapse–another decade, another billion souls, another billion or trillion acres of agricultural production taken from the Earth’s dwindling stock of arable land to feed ever more mouths and again stave off collapse.
So I did my stint for the machine, walked away with my tidy little nest egg, and let fate decide what to do with the talent I cultivated accidentally through decades of inconsequential toil.
Fate handed me a story, and I wrote it, and there it is. I didn’t choose this capstone to my career. I didn’t say, “Someday I will be a writer and I will tell a story that brings smiles, tears, and sobs to readers, giving them a window into the hearts and minds of others whose lives they would never choose to live.”
That’s just how it turned out. Had I set out to do that, 45 or 50 years ago, right now I would be basking in the light of accomplishment, of satisfying my life’s ambition. But as the saying goes, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” So I am still absorbing it. Maybe I envisioned it back at UCLA when I started studying how to create stories. Let me think about that some more.