I showered and dressed after working out at the YMCA on Friday. I was ready for the weekend. I talked with my friend Kris, who was also getting ready to leave. He asked if I was heading out on a date. I said, “No.” I had told Kris that I was on Match dot com, and had been on a few dates, although nothing lately. I still held out hope.
Kris told me that one of his friends met his wife on Match dot com. Very cool. Kris is married as well. He confessed that dating gets expensive. I said, “Yeah, it does when my date usually doesn’t pay.” He asked what I usually do, “Do you meet for coffee?” I usually meet for dinner and possibly a movie. I usually pay. Not a big deal. Although, Jacqui kindly paid for dinner on our date after seeing a movie. I was grateful.
Kris observed, “That’s not even.” I said, “No, it’s not even. Well, life is not even.” He smiled. By not even, we referred to the apparent uneven winning and losing streaks that seem to occur. In our case, the guy usually pays for everything on the date.
There are good times. There are not so good times, as well. Yeah, we generally accept that as life. Then I remembered something my Thesis Advisor Dr. Tom taught me years ago in graduate school.
I took Dr. Tom’s Queuing Theory class. He explained the phenomenon of win streaks. Consider that you have a constructed fair quarter. When you flip the coin: It comes up 50% heads and 50% tails. If you flip the quarter 10 times you can expect on average 5 heads and 5 tails. Could you see say 10 heads in row? Could you see N heads in a row, where N is a finite whole number?
Turns out the answer is: Yes. In Probability Theory that occurrence is nonzero, i.e. within the realm of possible outcomes. The likelihood of experiencing N heads or N tails increases as the number times you flip the coin increases as well, in theory as you approach infinite coin tosses. It’s like the experience of having the “hot hand” in Las Vegas.
Say heads equates to “good” and tails equates to “bad” or vice versa. These outcomes are what we all experience the longer we live life, the longer we flip our “coin”. In doing the math, accept that there will be trying and dark times. There will be times of joy and happiness, as well. We are all flipping our “coin” in the universe. Perhaps, there’s nothing personal in what occurs as good or what occurs as bad.
Doing the math informs us that both the good and bad times are finite: They have beginnings and endings. Enjoy the good times. Endure the bad times. You’re not being rewarded. You’re not being punished either.
Oprah Winfrey said that over the course of her career she had interviewed many people who overcame the most horrible circumstances and emerged greater than they knew. She said that one thing that they all had in common was the ability “to maintain hope for a brighter morning even during our darkest nights.” Perhaps, they inherently did the math. Perhaps, we can too.
I’ve had my times where I had to endure the darkest nights like my previous job, and those where I experience joy like teaching Aikido. I discover freedom when Oprah says, “A new day is on the horizon.” Amen.
The dark nights will eventually end. The bright days will also end as well. I believe wisdom discovers the balance of the two. As Sensei would tell me in Aikido practice, “Wait it out.” Amen. Amen.
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