Last night I was reading a section of Team of Rivals, a book about Lincoln's presidency. A book I started reading almost a year ago.
In Team of Rivals, author Doris Kearns Goodwin mentions how Major Robert Anderson abandoned Fort Moultrie in South Carolina on December 26th, 1860. South Carolina had just voted to secede from the Union and Major Anderson deemed Fort Moultrie too difficult to defend against the angry southerners.
This morning I awoke to read the headlines on the Washington Post's web site. There was a triple homicide on Moultrie Road in Fairfax County, Virginia. (Link)
In the great scheme of things this means nothing. William Moultrie was a general in the American Revolution. His name is plastered all over the U.S.. There's a county with that name in Illinois. A town in Georgia is named after the old general and a large lake in South Carolina. However I had never come across the name until last night, at least not consciously.
Words and ideas weave their way through our lives for reasons we cannot begin to fathom. I started reading Team of Rivals after receiving the book as a Christmas present last year. In an unusual pattern for me, I jumped around the book rather than reading it consecutively as I do most books. Last night was just one more session of continuous reading, an attempt to put all the events of Lincoln's presidency in the correct order.
Only just recently have I learned that another person is reading Team of Rivals and trying to learn from Abraham Lincoln's choice of cabinet officials, President-elect Barak Obama. This only further demonstrates to me the mystery of how ideas and words weave their way through our lives.
This could all be attributable to my keen ability to associate disparate ideas. I have always been a puzzle-solver. I treasured those 1,500 piece puzzles of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Course as a young boy. I loved the way my mind would start to work automatically as I came closer to completing the puzzle.
Various employers have benefited from my ability to solve complex problems, especially those involving computers and humans. I can sit down and study the software along with the intended end-user audience, and solve the problem of getting everyone trained in many locations. It is every bit a puzzle as those jigsaw puzzles I put together years ago.
There is no visible relationship between the mention of Fort Moultrie in Goodwin's Team of Rivals and the triple homicide on Moultrie Road in Fairfax. I usually let those oddities slip into the past easily, though I may use them to spur me into examining other relationships in my world. This brief essay would not have been written if not for the appearance of General Moultrie's name twice in my life in less than 12 hours. This is where a life examined intersects with events taking place elsewhere. It all stimulates the brain to create other new associations and isn't that really where life takes on meaning?