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One impossibly sunny September day in Manhattan, I was making my way to work, and--appropriately enough for a New Yorker--dropping off dress shirts. My extremely pleasant dry cleaner eschewed the usual greeting and exclaimed, "A plane has hit one of the Twin Towers." That was it. He moved on and didn't seem especially agitated. Surprised but not unduly distressed, I hopped on my bike and continued to the church office. Just another normal day.
I'm going to assume that the day before, somewhere in the vicinity of Boston, eager hands grabbed another set of dry-cleaned clothes in preparation for a trip to Los Angeles. This customer had been getting ready for United Flight 175 and was flying overhead as I leisurely pedaled in Central Park on the way to Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. That 767 would collide with the South Tower. Who would have known? Who could have predicted that set of events?
Routinely we operate on the understanding that life in general and our own lives in particular are governed by the predictable, the consistent. But such was hardly the case on that beautiful September morning. In The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes …