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