Like most citizens of the internet world, this past week I received several lists and requests for “25 Random Things.” Having been burned by such demands for information in the past, I hesitated to respond, but after receiving yet another “Random List,” I sat at my computer with great purpose in order to be random. Like all Facebook-related activities, there was a careful balance to strike—to be lighthearted but not flippant, introspective but not frighteningly personal. I hammered out a list, tagged twenty-five carefully chosen “friends,” and off it went. (If you weren’t chosen, feel free to become my cyber-friend and see just how little you missed.) The most interesting part of this exercise was that for the rest of the day, I thought in “Random List” mode.
#26: I love the smell of my kitchen hand soap.
#27: I look forward to folding laundry but hate ironing.
#28: Patches of dirty snow are really depressing to me.
Despite my attempt to indiscriminately share information regarding my inner life, certain patterns emerged. I think a lot about what I eat, movies, books, and my family. Of course, these areas often overlap in my thought process. “What am I going to eat while watching my next film?” “Which book should I read to the boys next? And what snack could we eat while reading?” As I began to see the theme of all the seemingly arbitrary facts that make up this person called me, I realized just how very nonrandom we each are. All of these seemingly insignificant and unrelated preferences, habits, and traits come together in a type of personality pointillism, creating the picture of our character. That bad experience with blueberries you had when you were three. The fear of something lurking under the bed, which you never could shake. The order in which you put on your clothes each morning. All of these traits or experiences are probably shared by millions of others, and yet there is no combination quite like you. It reminds me of a handheld game owned by one of the boys’ friends. To play this game of “artificial intelligence” twenty questions, you simply choose something or someone at random and then answer yes/no questions related to whatever you have chosen. Eerily, the game rarely fails to “guess” correctly. As it eliminates possibilities, one question at a time, the field of potential answers quickly narrows until only one answer is left.
This is true of us as well. I think of my husband and all that we have in common. We live in the same town, in the same house, go to bed at roughly the same time, eat the same food, watch the same films, and are raising the same kids. On and on, and yet we are clearly two unique individuals, with interrelated but distinctly different callings. (Anyone who has heard me sing in the shower or watched Jim try to cook dinner would heartily agree.) This would explain the popularity of the “Random List,” though it perhaps suggests that a more suitable title should be found. It is entertaining to consider all the ways that you are different from those around you and affirming to find that others want to uncover unknown aspects of your personality.
All of this carefully orchestrated design points clearly to our infinitely creative Designer. What an amazing Being He must be. Yet I fear that in marveling at His creatures, we often lose sight of the Creator. And staring too long at all the little dots, we may lose sight of the masterpiece in front of us.
Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe it’s just a harmless exercise in order to get to know more about your friends. After all, dots are pretty. People like dots and I am sure that God created them for our enjoyment. Right?
#29: I have a tendency to overanalyze everything.