Football, baseball, hockey. You name the sport and you’ve probably heard someone refer to it as a game of inches (sorry, rest of the world, the phrase “game of centimeters” just doesn’t have the same ring to it). Trick is, you can apply that to life as well. An inch here, or a moment there, and things can turn out very differently.
Have you ever had a moment where you thought, “Boy, another inch/foot/second/minute and I’d have been in trouble!” I’ve only had a few. One was a car accident I witnessed. The driver apparently fell asleep or passed out at the wheel, lost control of the car, swerved back and forth across three lanes of a major interstate and managed to walk away without, apparently, hurting themselves or anyone else. I noticed their erratic driving before anything happened and had slowed down to remain behind the person. Alongside me, a group of motorcycles had just pulled up. Probably about a dozen or so in cruising formation. It occurred to me that, had I been a second faster, not observed her slight swerve onto the shoulder prior to the major accident, that my family and I could have been involved in a serious accident. The same could be said of the motorcyclists. Someone could have died.
They didn’t, but it was a really just a matter of moments. If find this thread of thinking both fascinating and mind boggling. So much of what happens to us is just a matter of timing. I’ve been thinking about this lately because of the whole Ebola “crisis” thing. It could really make you paranoid to do anything. I live near Princeton and if you’ve been paying any attention to the news, you’ll know that a news correspondent recently broke quarantine in town. And, while the CDC has claimed that she didn’t risk public safety, it highlights the reality of the situation: If you rely on potentially exposed individuals to police themselves, this could get out of hand.
It makes for fascinating story telling and the butterfly effect is always an intriguing concept. But it all becomes a little less fascinating when the story and intrigue are happening in real life. I don’t want to have to look back and say, “Gee, what if I hadn’t sat next to that guy who was coughing on the train?”
Ebola is a terrifying prospect. Stay informed and educated about signs, symptoms, and modes of transmission. That’s the only way we’ll beat this.