My friend Jan is pregnant. How cool is that!
Jan and I went to college together at Iowa. I know Jan's husband, John, from my graduate school days at Indiana. From which you might wonder if Jan and John met through me. They did.
Briefly: Jan came out to Indiana to visit me one weekend in January; I threw a party in her honor*; John showed up to the party; a conversation ensued, followed by--unbeknownst to me--an e-mail correspondence. Fast forward two months, when some friends of mine planned a surprise party for my birthday: I was surprised enough by the party; then even more surprised that Jan had flown back to Bloomington just to attend; and then even more surprised later to look over and see Jan and John playing tonsil hockey in the corner (to this day, they deny this last detail--possibly correctly, I can't claim to be the most reliable eyewitness given that I was drunk and wearing an inflatable football helmet at the time).
Setting aside the possible role of Divine Fate in their meeting, it seems reasonable to presume that because Jan and John met as the result of their mutual friendship with me, they would not now be together if it wasn't for me. And if Jan and John weren't together, then the particular combination of DNA growing inside of Jan right now--let's call her Francine**--would not be there. So Francine owes her whole existence to me. To be sure, she owes it firstly to gestating Jan, secondly to John, but I'm right there in the contest for third.
I am an indisputably-indispensible part of the causal chain leading to her existence. I am right now awash in the warm glow of my own consequentiality.
Of course, other people are also indispensible parts of this causal chain. Jan's parents and John's parents, for instance. No them, no Jan and John, no Francine. But, then again, also my parents. No them, no me; no me, no meeting.
Also: Jan and I met because we were both part of this scholarship program at Iowa. I was originally an alternate for this program, and only got it because of some unknown person deciding to go somewhere else. That person, who is just as ignorant of our story as we are of hers/his, will also be owed a big Thank You from Francine as soon as she's old enough to understand causality. For that matter, if Doug Maynard had decided to stay on the faculty at Wisconsin instead of going to Indiana, I would have almost certainly gone to graduate school here in Madison instead of there in Bloomington. Doug would thus seem deserving of his own "In Gratitude" birth announcement once the Francine-bun is out of the Jan-oven.
The reader might complain that, as usual, I seem far too focused on me. Fine. I would certainly not deny that there must be all kinds of other people who have played causally crucial roles here.
One thing to understand is that, as it turns out, Jan and John are perfect for one another. And they are sort of perfectionists. Which means that even if had they not yet known the other was Out There Waiting, they might not have settled for less.
Otherwise, there would seem a reasonable chance of their being some guy out there who could have asked Jan out, and who Jan would have gone out with if asked, and who she would have gotten along with well enough for them to consider themselves sufficiently in love and to have gotten married, whereupon she might now even have a mostly-different bundle of DNA growing inside her, etc., etc.. Or, for that matter, what if that girl behind the counter at King Gyro had gone out with John, and then they dated for a stormy and unsatisfactory six months that just happened to overlap with Jan's visit? Sure, if John was at the party he would have still seen Jan across the crowded room and known that she, not King Gyro Girl, was The One. However, it would seem a safe bet that King Gyro Girl would not have liked John's sociology friends and would have made her take him to Cabin Boy or some other movie that night instead.
Once Jan and John met, it may seem like nothing could have derailed them from the course has now brought Francine into being. If only genetics worked that way. Instead: change the moment of conception a few minutes forward or backward in time and it's a whole different roll of the genetic dice. For all I know, the specific being known as Francine owes her existence to a joystick malfunction prematurely ending a playoff run in Playstation NHL 2004.
Alternatively, it could all have been Fate that they were to meet and get together, and have this child, which would mean that I was but Fate's emissary. Indeed, it could have been, in fact, that this was the only purpose that Fate has for me. If so, I suppose it's good to have it out of the way, and I'm definitely not going to feel guilty anymore about the time I spend blogging.
* Actually hosted in the house of a friend who was the host of many good parties in that day--you know who you are, as does pretty much everyone else from that era of Indiana Sociology.
** Jan and John have chosen not to know their baby's sex; either way, unless I reach a new level of effectiveness in my remote mind control experiments, the baby will not be named Francine.