As I’ve lurched through life, I’ve found dozens of interesting classes of people. Two of them are (A) the self-determiners, those who believe each person has the freedom and ability to decide what shall be the boundaries and/or achievements of our lives, and (B) the crapshoot believers, who are convinced that no matter how determined and set in our ways you and I are, life is essentially a crapshoot, filled with unpredictable and uncontrollable circumstances that push us around like dice thrown by drunks or looneys.
You may reply, “Who cares? Who knows? What difference does it make?”
If you don’t fall into either Class A or Class B, the answer is: nobody. Or nothing. But if you are persuaded that everyone fits into one of the two categories, even without knowing it, you may be in for some conversational — although enjoyable — turbulence as you roll along.
Class A believers can often be identified by age 18 or so. He (or she) knows what he believes, what his life’s purpose is, who he should marry, who (in most cases) to vote for, etc. etc. and what the size of his bank account will (or should) be at age 70.
Class B (the crapshooters) usually arrive at their beliefs by watching the daily news, marveling at the stupid (and often brilliant) things that people do, and being astounded that the human race (or fragments of it) has survived this far.
Class A people tend to be more religious than Class B members.
Whatever happens in life, it’s God’s will.
The Class B believers may or may not have firm religious convictions. But one of their guiding ideas is usually “God helps those who help themselves.”
Even as I wrote that last sentence, I became further enrolled in the idea that you and I are largely on our own as each day dawns. What worked for us last week may not be worth a can of beans today. We’d better keep our dancing shoes on, hedge all our bets, and stay alert for the twists and turns of life’s highways.
An illustration of that attitude fell into my lap even as I switched on my computer a few minutes ago. I had planned to write a commentary on some of the wise sayings I may have relied on up to now. Hoping to find such a list on the web, I typed “wise sayings” on my search bar.
In the past, an array of such quotations — often with their authors’ names attached — would quickly appear. But not this time, and perhaps nevermore. What came up was a list of books containing what I had hoped to see, plus the prices and instructions on how to buy the books.
In short, the web was telling me, “Don’t expect us to do your research for you, as in the old days. You do the scutwork; we’ll just sell you the books.”
Earlier this week I ran into a second warning sign that the web’s rules have suddenly changed. I wanted to learn the basic facts about the prostate gland. (Male readers past age 50 will not have to wonder, “Why?”)
When I typed “prostate gland” on my screen I was hoping to see a brief but authoritative answer appear. It never happened. What I got was a list of eight or 10 medical/commercial companies who would gladly sell me their books or services on prostate troubles and their possible cures. “For basic information, old man, keep scrolling down. Way down. Or enroll in the nearest medical school.” That’s what the message for me seemed to be.
The sudden changes I’ve noted may not apply to all the web. Perhaps they’ll be in effect only for Windows 10. They’ve sent me several notices that changes are coming, and by gum here they are.
To return to the start of this wandering column: I pledge my commitment to the Crapshoot Theory of how life works. If anyone doubts it, he/she need only look back on 2020 and what the pandemic has done to anyone’s belief in certainty. As Orphan Annie used to sing, “The sun will come up tomorrow.” Beyond that, we must cross our fingers and place our bets. But what a ride it’s going to be!