I am sitting here thinking about another surgery scheduled for next week. This brings my total up to 12. When I tell people that number they almost always look at me and say “that’s a lot”. So I was wondering how many surgeries people have in their lifetime. It turns out that that number is not really easy to come up with. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of research on that subject. The closest I have found is one study that estimates the average person in the U.S. will have about 9 surgeries in their lifetime.
This really wasn’t my idea of an area to be above average in, but here I am.
My ideal of being above average normally revolves around something like being taller than average (which I am). When those kinds of things happen I can sit back and just say how lucky I am to be above average.
I hear a lot of talk about “averages” and other statistics. Homeless numbers, unemployment calculations, 1-percenters, numbers below the poverty line. To me, one of the things that those numbers do is to make things less personal. We milk those numbers for all they are worth. Slicing and dicing the “facts” until they are just noise, not a real conversation. I’m not saying that there is not a place for statistics in our life, but it is one thing to say that there are less than 1% homeless in our city and quite another thing to stop and talk to some of them on the street or in the parking lot of a convenience store and buy them breakfast or lunch.
The same principle applies in so many areas of our lives. Back to my surgery, I can say that I am above average in number of surgeries, but that fact means nothing to me when I think about someone who is near and dear to my heart who has had at least double the number of surgeries that I have and is much, much, younger.
Look at immigration and race in our country. It is one thing to have cold facts and figures on how many do this, and how many do that, and what rights they have, and what rights I have, and quite another to sit down and talk to people who are different than I am and to really get to know them.
So what do I do? I slow down. I stop and talk. I find out what the real issues are. I make it personal to me. And write about it. And maybe start a real conversation.