Sometimes a theme arises so powerfully it cannot be ignored. This week, a sharp unexpected storm knocked out the power and the cell tower and the internet. A deep discussion with a dear colleague revealed a problem that ran deeper than any project or analysis could reach. Even my favorite escapist podcast featured an astro-miner who was working for years in solitude, with no idea what was happening to loved ones back on Earth. In each case, the backup to the backup to the backup failed, and no amount of planning would have saved the day.
The podcast story held the key, as good fiction often does. “Low Energy Economy” by Adrian Tchaikovsky follows the end of the space miner’s life, where he has no idea what has happened as a result of his work, if anything at all. In the end, he is rescued, and honored, and shown a great gleaming city that exists only because of his sacrifice.
Here is the thing. Sometimes we don’t get to know the ending.
Sometimes we get to plant a seed or tend to a small shoot that won’t bloom until well after we’re gone. The space miner was lucky in those last moments, to have the comfort of knowing his work was worthy, and appreciated. But that gleaming result would have existed regardless.
Dear ones, like the astro-worker, we can be fiercely devoted without clinging to immediate evidence of success.
We can rest in knowing that our efforts are worthy, whether tending a garden or a child or an idea.
Our care is percolating out into the world whether we see it or not, perhaps in glorious ways.
* The podcast I reference here is LeVar Burton Reads – yes, that LeVar Burton! Most selections are short science fiction, though these days they sometimes seem matter-of-fact and not so fantastical.
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