Posts Tagged ‘Darwin’

Origin Of The Specious

January 30, 2018

There’s a quote attributable to Lawrence Summers, Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, that I’ve alway liked: “In the history of mankind, no one has ever taken a rented car to a car wash.” His remark was part of a larger point which, for now, eludes me.

I thought of that quote the other day when I was having dinner out with Lebasi and was getting annoyed at how loud the music in the restaurant where we were eating was. I called the waiter over and asked if the music’s volume could be lowered. Which he took care of.  It occurred to me then that, most likely, there’s another thing that has never happened in the history of mankind; no one has ever asked his waiter see if the volume of the music in a restaurant could be turned up loud.

I’ve noticed that lately I’m  becoming much more proactive in dealing with circumstances, such as that one, which annoy me. As if I’ve chosen to light a candle instead of curse the darkness. This trading in of indignation for action is a very big deal for me. In fact, just last week I did something I’d never done before to mollify my grouchiness. I was standing in line at the supermarket holding just a couple of items. I was behind a woman with an entire cartload of groceries who was next to be checked out. I got her attention and while pointing to my paltry payload, asked if I could go ahead of her. Although clearly not too happy about it, she agreed. Beware, this may be the new me.

This got me thinking about how my growing impatience with everyday events (albeit starting from a pretty high mark) has been countered by an offsetting increase in a willingness to get out of my comfort zone, be more brazen and advocate for myself in heretofore unknown ways.  At first glance I saw this change in behavior as simply an arbitrary, interesting and fortunate turn of events.

But when I thought longer and harder about this (aided by some alcohol), I began to see this dynamic as not some aimless, haphazard occurrence. It’s become clear to me that what I’ve been both witnessing and been a part of, is the mobilization of some Darwinian laws of nature. In effect, I’ve become part of a small lab experiment in proving the theory of the survival of the fittest. That is, I’m adapting in ways needed to keep the species (me) going.  This sounds almost noble.

Of course, being part of the entirety of man’s evolution is not something I set out to do. I didn’t seek that kind of responsibility. But I’m happy to do my part to keep mankind going; at least for a while. But only if I can be assured that I won’t have to wait on any long grocery lines.

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