…it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself (Leon C. Megginson)
Who the heck is Leon C. Megginson?
Full disclaimer, I began this story with a bit of a different direction in mind. For one thing, I wrongly believed a thing was said by Charles Darwin that wasn’t (see the quote above), and when I double checked the quote and found this out I had a moment of absolute doubt in what I was planning to write.
I thought to myself, well crap, now what?
I admit, I thought about killing this story then and there. But a little voice told me to hold on, to hold up. To change my plan, to adapt, to, in other words, embrace the lesson I wanted to share with this story in the first place. So, I did.
The plan required a bit of changing itself, but the lesson was more solid than ever.
Now, back to Megginson.
Introducing Leon C. Megginson
The earliest relevant evidence known to QI appeared in a speech delivered in 1963 by a Louisiana State University business professor named Leon C. Megginson at the convention of the Southwestern Social Science Association. The text of his address was published in the quarterly journal of the association. Megginson presented his own idiosyncratic interpretation of the central idea outlined in Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”. Megginson did not use quotation marks, and the phrasing was somewhat repetitive (Quote Investigator)
You see, he was the fellow who actually said the quote that I and the internet have, more often than not, and in one form or another, been attributing to Darwin for years. I was wrong. But that’s OK, I learned a thing or two and if you keep reading, I’ll share the lessons of my error with you.
Mr. Megginson believed in the power and raw potential of change. More than this, he believed in the conscious act of embracing change, adapting to change, and the power and potential found in that. It’s this lesson I want to dive into more fully next.
One of the hardest lessons I am still actively learning is how to let go of the past. Past glories, past mistakes, the past in general.
It’s so easy to hold onto, ain’t it? That sticky past, where we paint facades over facts. We build up the great, push down the not-so-great, and create a fantasy from it. Just being real.
Not too long back, I was heading in an entirely different direction. I can’t help but wonder if it was the wrong direction. Not a bad one, I’d have built a happy life, and a successful one to be sure. And I still might wind up on that road in the future. Who knows?
I have a Masters Degree in Political Science and own a small consulting business geared toward helping Candidates grow and develop their political campaigns. I haven’t done much with that business for a while now, just owned it. But, things changed, I changed, life changed. I got sick, then I ripped a muscle and developed a hernia and about a half year later I had to have surgery to repair it. Long long story made really short, life happened. Right?
My point is this, it’s easy to hold onto those former glories. I am friends with a collection of very powerful people. But politics is funny, spend any amount of time out of the lime light, out of thought and out of mind and you fade. Friendships or not. You fade.
I could focus on that, and I do sometimes, I’m not perfect by any stretch. Or I could smash that reboot button and embrace growth, embrace the mystery of possibility, and take some courageous steps forward in a new direction. Maybe even a better one.
The thing about the reboot button in life is that sometimes when you hit it, you realize you don’t really want what you used to want.
And I think, if I’m being completely transparent with you, that this is where I’m at in life right now. Questioning if I want the political life. Sure, it’s what I spent three years studying, what I built a business and a network around, and what I know. But that year mostly away from things stirred older passions in me once more.
Hitting reboot, starting over, it gave me the power to question the direction I want to take my life.
I am and will always remain passionate for politics — specifically the power of a free people to freely choose and orchestrate their political destinies through their direct involvement in the shaping and reshaping of their government. I love that shit!
And maybe someday I’ll even run for office, who knows?
But hitting reboot helped me remind myself about writing and poetry. The first love. The only true and deepest love. The very thing I carried into my political business and hadn’t fully been aware of (I specialized in communication and digital strategy and tactics mostly).
So, you see, getting knocked on my ass by gastrointestinal issues, then a hernia, and its complications, and just generally not knowing if I wanted to be in the political business anymore, all of that swirled together to remind me of who I more deeply resonate with being. Who I might even be at my deepest levels: writer and poet.
That’s one half of the power of rebooting, the other half is in the act of choosing to embrace the changes that come with that act of rebooting. Choosing change.
Keep moving forward
But none of this amounts to much if you don’t step boldly in that new direction and choose to chase yours steps steadily toward progress. It isn’t one choice, but many choices. Not one challenge, but several.
Life ain’t easy.
One of my favorite lines in the Rocky Balboa movies is the one where Rocky is talking to his son:
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! (Rocky Balboa, 2006)
And there it is. Life is going to hit you, and it’s going to hit you hard. You are going to get knocked on your ass. You’re going to be laughed at, maybe even mocked and sometimes, you’ll be made fun of. It isn’t fair. It won’t ever be easy. It won’t ever stop stinging when it happens.
But you know what? If you pick yourself back up, level your chin, and dig your feet in, you have everything else you need to push back and keep moving forward.
You have within you the fruit of a billion trillion coincidences that spun together and created the biggest mystery, and most capable force in all the Universe. It created you and me. We are the sum of an untold lineage of explosions and chaos that came together and made us. Stop and think on that. Isn’t it wild?
And if all those stars live in you and me, then by God we have in us everything we need to chin down and keep moving forward.
There is a force more powerful than natural selection, more powerful than all the forces of nature itself. That force is a combination of the will to survive and the ability to size up, seize, and embrace change.
Life itself is the act of steady progression, of changes both within and beyond our control. Within and beyond our reach. More simply said, life is change.
Living, therefore, is the act of continually embracing change.
It is not the strongest that survive, but rather, the most able to adapt, to change, to transform. I would even argue, the most able to create. That last act, the act of creation is arguable the divine thumb print of life itself, and not just human life, but wherever life can be found. Creation of tools as much as creation of self, conscious of the act and otherwise.
Today, my challenge to you is to not only face change, but to choose change.