Your life’s work

I was struck today by several confluenced events whose central theme is someone’s life’s work.  It’s not always a giant benefit to the planet, but it seems that there are lots of stories, big and small, that show how doing something you love ends up having a huge impact on others.

First, there was the story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal about Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke steering his way through the subprime housing meltdown at age 53 [subscription required], a crisis Greenspan admitted he didn’t even see coming.  Here’s an excerpt:

"Mr. Bernanke had been preparing for the crisis for
much of his adult life. He grew up in a small South Carolina town, the
son of the local drugstore owner. He received his Ph.D. in economics
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979 and spent the
next 23 years in academia, most of it at Princeton University.

He has long taken exception to suggestions that he
lacks Mr. Greenspan’s feel for the markets. Much of his career he has
studied how the financial system and the economy interact, in
particular during the Great Depression.
He told a Fed conference in
1999 that one of the key mistakes the Fed made during the Depression
was "to allow the financial system to collapse." [emphasis added -Shabbir]

Second is this story of Jonathan Goodwin, 37, from Fast Company, an amateur mechanic whose conversions of factory consumer vehicles to clean running souped up muscle cars is showing the way to the future of human transport.

"With a $5,000 bolt-on kit he co-engineered–the poor man’s version of a
Goodwin conversion–he can immediately transform any diesel vehicle to
burn 50% less fuel and produce 80% fewer emissions. On a full-size
gas-guzzler, he figures the kit earns its money back in about a
year–or, on a regular car, two–while hitting an emissions target from
the outset that’s more stringent than any regulation we’re likely to
see in our lifetime."

And finally, there’s no shortage of stories of people just living their daily lives, suddenly getting the chance to perform CPR when they least expected it.  Try googling "cpr child" and you’ll see what I mean.  Here’s just one, of a man who was 60 when his opportunity came.

lifesaving skills Lou Jandoli of Sunrise learned when he was a police
officer in New Jersey were tested earlier last month when he came to
the aid of a little boy found floating face down in a swimming pool. As
Jandoli, 60 and now retired, sunbathed near the swimming pool at the
Fairways of Sunrise, his tanning attempts were interrupted by calls for
help when the child was pulled unconscious from the pool. Jandoli
rushed to his aid, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation"

It seems we often train for things without realizing the import of what will be thrust upon us.  I can modestly point to the work I did in the mid-1990’s, creating an online grassroots constituency for Internet free speech that produced the Internet we have today.  I realized I trained for that for years agitating in all sorts of manners until I coincidentally ended up in the right place at the right time.

I’m also hoping that’s not my last act.  Barring a piano falling on my head.