In Times Like These, It’s Critically Important that We Don’t Leave the Universe Empty-handed. One of Its Rules Is that Nothingness Begets Nothingness

One puzzle has confronted wise people almost from the very first philosophical discussion: Why is there something rather than nothing?

In other words, how has so much complexity managed to appear in the world? Complex things like people, for example. You’d think that with the world like it is, chaos would always triumph over order, old stuff would always smother new stuff, complexity would always lose out to ponderous stupidity and inertia.

But it doesn’t. And therein lies the reason, mysterious as its workings are, why the best thing we can do for ourselves in almost every instance is simply to try something. Send up an idea. Initiate a movement. And see how the world reacts.

Or as I’ve pictured it in my mind a couple of hundred times, throw the life ring out in front of yourself and swim to it.

Amazing as it is, when you offer the world something, as often as not, it takes it and runs with it. In your behalf and to your advantage.

Early in my career as a writer and thinker, I decided to be what people in the media still call a free lance. No job, no salary, no safety net. Just you, the marketplace and a world teaming with things to be discovered, explained, portrayed.

As a young journalist in the 1970s, my family and I wanted to live in Texas. The challenge was that the big media centers were in New York and Illinois, among other places. So, throwing the life ring out in front of things, I got on an airplane. Flew to Manhattan and Chicago and made cold calls all over town. And came home with a brief case full of assignments and new relationships with editors who purchased my work for years afterwards.

That’s happened to me more than a few times. It’s nearly always better to offer the world something rather than nothing.

When things are as dicey and uncertain as they are today, it is understandable to think that this may not be possible. You may think that there are simply no resources, no energy, no opportunity available to you. And that may, in fact, be true. But to allow yourself to assume this, you are cutting yourself off from this mysterious force available in the world that has since the beginning of things, excelled at taking little of nothing and making it into something more.

The universe really can’t make something for you if you haven’t offered it anything.

Make the offer, though, and it can be a wonder to behold. It may be just the smallest toehold. And then there may be a little movement here. Or a door you hadn’t noticed before opening there. An ally appearing unexpectedly. An opportunity that exists only because you offered up a reason for it to materialize.

I can’t guarantee you a good outcome. There will be failures and forays that don’t produce so much as a flutter of progress or possibility.

But I can personally attest to this: There is more often something there rather than nothing when you offer the universe something to work with. Offer it an idea, an opening, a movement, a plan, a design, a surprise, all matched by a good faith effort and the kind of sensible judgment that pays attention to what’s happening, learns quickly from its mistakes and seizes its opportunities.

These are tough times. It’s important that you and I not let the times leave us with nothing. The way forward is to think as diligently as we ever have about what we can give the universe to work with in our behalf. We always need to be scheming to give it something.

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