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The Through Line

There’s an element of our psychology that connects through all that we do, an integral, organic essence that carries forward, zigzagging as a dramatic line chart, dotted at significant events across the years of a lifetime. The y-axis, naturally, indicates emotional impact.

In our early years, this line may look quite erratic, rising and falling to extremes in amplitude; initially violent as an earthquake, gradually leveling off as we mature and develop a certain temperament. To every lifetime is allocated an array of upsets and disruptions to weather and endure. All along the road to ultimate knowing (some call it “death”) is discovery, emergence and origination — coupled with wisdom, experience and intelligence.

A person’s through line is most often a question. When you examine even superficially the life that someone like Haben Girma has led, to me, the question that arises is: why not? She’s the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law. She’s an advocate for equal opportunities for people with disabilities — but she’s so much more. In the linked video you’ll see why this question is to me the clear, central theme in her unique perspective of life. Why not learn to surf, travel in order to feel and experience the broader world, explore improv and become a comedian, and get a law degree from the best school in the country? All of this, while pushing innovation in accessibility in technology.

What this immediately signals for me is an “able-bodied” perspective; the common practice that we, the majority, have of attempting a healthy, self-limiting, or regimented behavior. We may indeed have the ability (capability or potential) to be and do anything, but we most certainly do not have the capacity to do it all. For Haben, her so-called disabilities act as a powerful focusing lens, enabling her with the will, energy and discipline to push herself, and undoubtedly those around her, to embrace the struggle and use it to propel themselves toward their desires in life, unapologetically. We humans need something to push against, a contrast (or conflict, within or without), to help us define our choices and motivations; to push us to discern and distill a richer meaning in life. Jordan Peterson has a lot to say about this.

Whether it’s something we were born with (or without), a traumatic or joyful instigating event or environment — or a theme that develops simply by following your feet and living life out in the open — look for the question that is hiding behind your causal and reactive behaviors; so to better understand yourself, allow that awareness to make clearer the next steps toward your best life.

Your through line is that guiding, gentle hand. It’s an emotional, energetic, unconscious bias that is always with you. When acknowledged and consciously oriented toward, it can reframe and enrich both the mundane and the magnificent.

Solvitur ambulando