Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Sum of My Parts

So this quote came to mind earlier this week. It's one of those quotes you hear all the time but, if you are like me, never took the time to actually play it out in your head.

"The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts"

But I guess, upon further review it makes sense. I mean, generally speaking, when you connect a multitude of parts and put them together, naturally they would become a great entity, than they would be on their own.

But if you do a google search, you'll actually find that this theory, put forth by Aristotle (yeah, I didn't know that either), has not only extended into a wide range of realms, but is something of a philosophical hot point, with several differing viewpoints. I was quite surprised to see what I had perceived to be a rather straightforward quotation is a concept that invades a plethora of subjects some as basic as mathematics, and simple anatomy, to ones as complex as emergent structures, and holistic economics.

Now, I'll be honest, I don't know the first thing about emergent structures, or economics, let alone math or anatomy, but I did my best to follow along with what these thinkers were debating. And from what I could tell the gist seems to be on how we define entities.

Is a chain of Dunkin Donuts a company, or is a company a chain of Dunkin Donuts?

And after some exhaustive reading, the answer I've come to is... I don't give a shit.

Which is not to say that I didn't find it, at least partially, interesting. Though after reading entirely too much about what a bunch of dead, German, white guys thought, I ended up at the same place I began when considering this quote. Because it seemed for as complex as people can make this theory, I find it's simplicity infinitely more interesting. Cause, believe it or not, when I was thinking of this quote earlier this week it wasn't as part of a train of thought about emergent systems (or would that be a train of emergent systems and the thoughts that summed it up?).

So as I read more, I couldn't help but think that in some small way I disagreed with the sentiment of the quote. Not that I disagreed with the actual meaning of it. I don't think the whole is by any means less than the sum of it's parts. But the more I read, the more I thought that it's possible the sum gets a little too much attention.

So as I sit here today, a few days off from probably the biggest race I've ever run, I can't help but think of the sum of my own parts. I can't help but think of the sum of the parts that have led me to this moment, and to question how, within this quote, they get overlooked. And as I sit here today, years removed from darker places, and days away from the next hill to climb, I can't think of a more appropriate time not to acknowlegde the sum or the whole, but rather the parts themselves.

I am the kindness of strangers who answered my late night phone calls.

I am the love of a father who dropped me off, and picked me back up.

I am the patience of a man who picks me up, and the wisdom to let me learn my own lessons.

I am the rocks that fly to tap on a second floor window.

I am the laughter of friends who don't mind hearing the same jokes over and over again.

I am the friend of a man always wants to walk beside me.

I am the understanding of friends who understand me before I understand myself.

I am the space you give me to be me.

I am the forgiveness of those who gave it before I ever had to ask.

I am the courage of those who lit the way before me.

I am the inside joke with a brother that will never make sense to anyone else the way it does to us.

I am the gifts from the last twelve days, and every day before that over the last two years.

I am words. Words written on cards, and tucked in envelopes. Words written through e-mail and text messages. And words written in eyes, and smiles.

I am the strength of those who believe in me, when I don't believe in myself.

I am the debt to those who care enough to read a blog by someone who is making it up all up as he goes.

I am the memory of where I cam from.

I am the liar, the cheat, the thief, and the grace to try and be none of these.

I am the lesson friends taught me, that I am the road, not the destination.

I am the family recipe passed down by my grandmother.

I am the grace of those who sacrifice without hesitation to take care of me.

I am the love without conditions that's always been there.


I am the knowledge that the greatness of my whole, is the not sum of my parts, but the sum of the parts that you all have given to me.

1 comment:

  1. Dan, congrats on a nice finish at Boston, I guess you are now ready for Las Vegas. Megan and I tried to keep track of your time as best we could, looks like the heat took a toll. When I run I think more about the saying "a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link". Most recently the darn link being my left plantar fascia. Love the Blog, and good luck on your next run.