Friday, November 11, 2011

The Invisible Hand (Not Economics)

Has your life ever been in a situation where it seemed that no matter what you did you had no control over what was happening to you? You had plans. You had goals. You had a sense of where you wanted to be sometime in the future. Yet somehow whenever you were making progress towards your planned ends something occurred that set you off in a different direction. At the end of the journey be it short, a few weeks, a year, many years where you ended up was not where you intended to be. It was not really what you would have envisioned in your perfect world but somehow for the time and place you have found yourself it was the best of all worlds, all things considered. Let me make this clear, it could be for a specific one time thing or something that has life changing effect upon you.

This young man, many years ago, was drafted into the Army with the hope that he would stay at Fort Dix and be near his girl and perhaps get into the Army Band. Within two weeks he was sent to Columbus Ga. for Basic Training. Georgia was as far away from New York as far as he was concerned, no weekends home, no sweet kisses to get him through the week. He wondered how this could happen. When the Cadre went to process him they didn't find his papers. A phone call to Jersey informed them he was sent there by mistake but rather than ship him back they would mail his papers and he'd be assigned to Georgia. He took his first eight weeks and came home on leave but he had to go back to take his second eight. He was not a happy camper. For the young two years is a very long time and for young love two years is an eternity. Two weeks into his second half of Basic he got called up to audition for the band as it seems that most of the band were short timers and they would need replacements quickly. He was accepted into the Band and completed his second half of basic. Because the Division was assured of staying in Georgia at least for the next year and a half and he being in the Band which did not require going out on maneuvers for weeks at a time he could get married and live off post.  They did get married. They did live off post. They started a family. The kisses were sweeter than wine. All this because his papers got lost and he was sent mistakenly a thousand miles away from where he wanted to be. Everything certainly looked messed up. But that invisible hand guided him over the uncontrollable.

This couple had their house destroyed by a disaster. At the time plans were in the works for their lives to take a turn but not with the disaster that destroyed their house. It seemed that they had lost control of their lives. But they remained as calm as they could and suddenly certain things began to fall in place. Someone they knew helped them get temporary housing which wasn't what they had before but wasn't so bad. They were planning on building an extension onto their offspring's house and had it almost approved but then some people threw a fly in the ointment causing the ruling board to place certain restrictions and requirements on them which did not make this construction feasible. An affordable house became available in the vicinity they wanted. Suddenly everything was looking a little brighter. This story hasn't ended yet but if the invisible hand
is left to its devices I am sure a lot more pleasant surprises will happen.

In her middle 50's she lost her husband. Late troubles had put some sort of blight on their marriage but they were going to stick it out. So she found herself basically alone. She had children and grandchildren but none could lighten the load. This was her experience and she was adrift in the sea of life hoping she wouldn't drown. She met someone she had known  previously who had experienced a loss too. They fell in love and married and had more than a decade of happiness. This would not have happened unless the invisible hand was gently pushing them together through a series of life's moments. The second marriage ended when he became gravely ill and passed on. But I am sure because of her previous experiences she was what he needed in his time of peril. Her story isn't over but the invisible hand hasn't let her know exactly where she is headed but if she gently relinquishes control the hand will guide her to the right situation.

They were adjusting to what seemed to them a comfortable existence. She was slowly coming to the conclusion that flying solo was going to be her choice in life. He was coming off the loss of his wife after a very draining and long illness. He figured that at his time of life going it alone wasn't such a bad idea.  Over a few years they got interested in the social media and both established a Facebook page. One day she noticed his name and realized this was a guy she knew almost a quarter a century ago when she was just a young gal in her early thirty's and he was an older man in his fifties. They were friendly for a time so she got in touch with him through Facebook. When he first received the notice he didn't recognize the name so he checked her Facebook profile and realized she was the same young lady that used to spend some lunch times with him. He responded. They met for lunch. They met again and though it seemed so foolish considering the age difference they kept meeting. Soon it became apparent to them that flying solo wasn't really the way to go. Without realizing it the invisible hand was pushing them together into a loving relationship. So without questioning, without fully realizing it they went with the flow. There is no question in their minds that they are in love but where the invisible hand will finally lead them is unknown and that's OK too. Why question everything? Why not just enjoy the ride and let whatever is happening happen.  

Adam Smith in his "The Wealth of Nations" used the metaphor of the invisible hand to say that if you  \leave the markets alone they will channel self interest towards socially desirable ends. I believe that is so but the problem is we humans never leave anything alone. Somehow we have to step in and control everything usually to our own self interests and gain. I am not saying we should not plan or have goals rather that when our plans and goals seem to be getting all upset perhaps we should release the reins a bit and let the invisible hand nudge us towards what is best. I am not going to suggest I know without a doubt what or who this invisible hand is, maybe it is a super power we call God, or maybe it is the collective good will inherent in all of us if we let it come out, or maybe it is nothing. There are many people throughout the world that seemingly have nothing but "BAD" in their lives. But instinctively, not that I really know, I feel that through all their misery and pain the invisible hand is moving them from freedom from the chains inflicted upon them from those who want to do only evil.

In the end we will never really know if good does seek all of us. I have the true feeling that it does and it nudges us always towards freedom from harm only some times we don't get there but it doesn't mean it isn't working.       

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