Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Most Beautiful Statistic

I love statistics. As much as I’m a heart-on-sleeve guy, a champion of the intuition, a spokesperson for beauty and minister at the marriage of the heart and mind, part of me is very practical and loves to get the real numbers on what’s going down in the world. I’ve been reading Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Freedom, and am in the section where one character is talking about overpopulation. Apparently, the 3 billion folks around when I graduated high school have increased to 7 billion. Yikes!! No wonder it’s hard to find parking!

Reason enough for depression, but then this morning I went to a lecture at the ECIS Conference in Lisbon by Hans Rosling. He confirmed the above statistic, but gave some absolutely fascinating details that made it feel a tad less depressing (mostly regarding clear signs of leveling off—after another 3 billion!). Plenty to say about him as a teacher (fantastic!!!) and about the power of the Google statistical charts that could move year-by-year before your eyes (now there’s a remarkable teaching tool!!) and I do recommend that everyone check it out at

Naturally, one would leave a lecture like that thinking, “People!! Stop having babies!!” Unless your name is Kerala Goodkin Taylor and that baby Zadie is your first child and your Dad’s first grandchild and she was born—TODAY!!!!!!!

That’s right, folks, I’m an official blood Grandpa and here in Lisbon, my smile is wrapping all the way to Washington DC where I greet my grand-daughter with long-distance adoring eyes. Even the mind-numbing statistics I heard today can’t trump my joy at this perfect little being come to bless the world with her presence. And especially poignant to be born on Nov. 18th, her great grand-dad Ted’s birthday (who we lost this last April) and one day before my Dad’s birthday (gone four years now). Certainly some level of reincarnated souls is happening here.

I’ve received one photo so far and recognize the eyes of the adoring parents gazing down at this 9-month-minus-10-days awaited marvel. The same eyes my wife and I had for Kerala and then Talia, the extraordinary wonder of this kicking imagined presence in the belly finally in your arms. If there is a miracle in this life great than that, I’d like to know about it.

It’s a challenging world little Zadie is entering, but then again, when hasn’t it been? Today’s statistics showed an average world-wide life expectancy of 70 years (probably twice as much as humanity’s average in the long haul), a 2.4 child birthrate and generally greater prosperity. So the news isn’t all bad. But it looks like it will be harder to get into college. And as for parking, forget it!

So, little Zadie, welcome to this world. You have chosen two loving, caring and intelligent parents who will care for you, protect you, make reparable mistakes and one day set you free to find your own place in this big, beautiful, messy, sorrowful and glorious world. You have adoring grandparents who already love you beyond any reasonable measure and can’t wait to pamper you and spoil you and sing to you and dance with you and do art projects with you and take you out to the garden to pick lettuce and read to you the old books brought up from the basement and later make you sit through old Hitchcock films. From too far away, on this first day of your life, I whisper the same words in your ear that I said to your mother, spoken millennium ago by a wise man named Buddha.

In this body there is birth and death and liberation from birth and death.
Be a light unto yourself.

And a few more of my own:

Zadie Taylor, you are loved and blessed Welcome!

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