Gnomicon 215

If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  215
Thursday 13 December 2012
Read gnomica 1-200 here!

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 If there’s any business that instructs you
in the strong hand of fate,
it’s show business.
You can plan and plan, but
it’s what happens to you that really
determines what your career will be like.
Sam Waterston (15 Nov 1990 – )

This first-rate actor, probably best-known for his playing Sydney Schanberg in The Killing Fields (1984) and a twenty-year (1990-2010) rôle as D.A. Jack McCoy in the outstanding television series Law & Order, here makes a point with which I both agree and disagree.

I disagree, on the basis of personal experience, with that bit about what show biz alone is here alleged to do, namely, impress on you the pervasiveness of what Waterston refers to as ‘fate’ and I think of as unpredictability and randomness in affairs, the powerfully aleatory nature of life and career:  no one more than I (and my extended family of parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents) talked and thought more about my becoming an M.D. – right up until the time I was into my second quarter as a freshman at Stanford.  Then quite suddenly everything changed about as drastically as one could imagine, and all those years of suggestions, plans and career-programming got completely deleted into the trash bin.

Any projected path in any life can veer at any time in any direction.  That is fact.

But I also agree with Waterston, again on the basis of personal experience, with the bit about the essentially random imponderables (‘what happens to you’) that come along and over which, despite their weighty influence on the course of your life, you have very little if any personal control.  And I would venture that this is true of not just a career in show biz but of a career in just about any biz you could imagine.

Thus, on the important, the consequential point of the epigraph I am in agreement.  I believe that I am not alone in feeling more comfortable with a reasonably predictable un-scrolling of the cryptic charts held “in the strong hand of fate”.  True, that comfort zone will not always be there, and one does try to learn to adapt to the inevitable uncertainties that are an inevitable certainty in the arc of any human life.

Well, it’s not that big a deal, I guess, but I though Waterston in the end did a pretty nice job of distilling what to me is an essential, unflagging truth.

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