Never and always
I took a Lyft to meet up with friends this week and had an interesting conversation with the driver. Apropos of absolutely nothing they shared the news that another food cart pod had burned down. Another? I didn’t know about the first one... But I have been checked-out of a bunch of things the last few days, so I looked it up. And there is was: a second food cart pod in a week to go up in flames. The first one was an exploding propane tank, the cause of the second was unknown.
The Lyft driver was feeling suspicious. Since it happened twice it couldn’t be just a fluke, right? Someone must be up to something. Maybe. Maybe not. I don't personally have enough information to say - the first one was downtown and the second was in the Boise neighborhood. I don't know enough about either pod to identify any connections (or lack of connections). The Lyft driver's reaction reminded me of a phrase I read a few months ago:
When something happens only one time, it can be easily excused as coincidence. It's inconsequential in a way that can be forgotten as if it never even happened. When something happens twice, it suddenly becomes a pattern. And that completely changes everything. A pattern feels much more impactful and weighty. It feels like something that's here to stay. Ever since I took algebra in high school, I have expressed this with the phrase: one point is just data, two points make a line. Less poetic, but the same sentiment.
Before I visited Europe last month I already knew I was able to eat the dairy on that continent (even though I cannot have cow dairy here in the US). And I wasn't mad about it. I was just fascinated that a different breed of cow could completely change the digestive experience of their milk products. Then I accidentally found out about the pigs... It turned out I can eat pork in Europe even though I cannot eat pork here in the US. Suddenly it wasn't one interesting dietary anomaly; it was a pattern of toxic US food. And that's when I got mad. I want to eat food that isn't poison and that's more challenging than it should be just because of which country I live in.
Most of the examples of twice-occurring happenings that initially came to my mind were negative or detrimental, but I think this same phenomenon also applies to positive shifts. This week Morocco looks poised to become the second country in Africa to offer menstruation leave. Zambia paved the way in 2015. One country offering leave to people with a uterus might be just someone in government being extra. It could even be a fluke. But two countries on a continent feels a whole lot like the beginning of a movement. And I hope it is. I hope that movement spreads all the way to the US.
Derek Sivers expressed a similar observation in his Ted Talk about starting a movement. One person can start anything they want, but it can't become something larger until the second person arrives. Just one person doing a new dance move on TicTok or asking for greater attention to human rights or wearing brightly colored sweaters in a sea of folks in drab clothing could just be one weirdo. But as soon as someone else stands alongside them, it's no longer just one person and their radical vision. It's something legitimate with a following.
So look for something happening that makes the world a better place and if they need a second person to further that movement momentum, step on up. If you can also notice things that should not continue, try to stand in the way of it catching on. I know it's easy for me to say and challenging to accomplish, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't all try. Maybe you've never considered this dichotomy before, maybe you have. Either way, I offer you this framework and encourage you to use it to identify at least one way you can make a difference in the world.
Information and Inspiration
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.