The X Factor


The other day I was listening to the Dj and she was talking about her best friend from way back, whom had taken a different path to hers. She had gone on to work in a big firm and was now staying uptown and it was as if these two girls had not all grown up in the same high density neighbourhood playing hopscotch in the middle of that big dusty road. The question she then asked was, how do two people or a group of people in the same environment with the same resources end up so different? Is it fate or is it hard work or maybe even natural selection?


I then thought of my life and the people in it I knew. When I was six my two best friends were these two boys who I shall call John and Peter. I remember John, Peter and myself used to race with our bicycles, steal sugarcane and run away from the police. We used to go swimming on Saturdays and then go to Sunday school the next day. We were a notorious trio. Our lives were simple and carefree. We moved when I was nine and I lost touch with both of them it was sad but when you are a kid you get over things very quickly and adjusting is never hard.


Three weeks ago when I was home I was standing by the bus terminus waiting for a taxi; it was hot and I decided to buy a coke. As I took out my money to pay for my coke can I raised my head again to look at the boy selling these drinks and that is when it hit me. It was John! I greeted him and asked how life had been and what had happened to him and Peter after I left. He went on to tell me that Peter had gotten a girl pregnant and was now working odd jobs in South Africa. After I left I thought to myself how life could have been so unpredictable. When we were six our paths were the same but now they had taken different twists. We had all gone through our different challenges and handled them differently.


As you read this I am sure one or two people come into mind from your own life who went on to do exceptionally well and achieved amazing things that make you say “hey we went to the same school or we did the same degree programme or we both equally worked hard and passed but I did not achieve the same things.” Or it might the opposite, maybe you think of someone whose life did not turn out so well that it makes you sad. You did the same thing, went to the same classes and everything. So what gives other human beings that extra edge?


All the scientists by now are saying it is natural selection the order of life; however others will say it is destiny that separates each and every one of us. Some people even believe that other people are just born lucky hence they get that job that you both applied for with the same qualifications. Others say that it is Gods favour but what I want to know is what you think. What gives others that extra ‘X’ factor? Is it genetic or is it a quality that is quantitative and can be taught to others. Is there a secret book out there or some people just ‘luckier’ than others? Furthermore do we as people have a say in what becomes of our lives or have our paths been set in stone so no matter how hard you study or attend lessons if you were meant to be a Vendor that is what you will end up being. Are we victims of circumstance or do we have a role as to where our lives go?



2 thoughts on “The X Factor

  1. the one thing I love about your writing is how you draw a lot from what people say, this is my second and both have been prompted by something your friend said. Talking about real stuff, stuff we encounter has a great potential of transforming society so keep on doing it. About having friends like John, I do have, many…facebook enables you see other people’s lives…i do not know the answer to them deep questions. i think a lot has to do with free-will and hence the choices we make but there is also the argument of no one having free will so maybe the environment or upbringing…either way our paths always end up meeting. it would be boring if our journeys were the same…would it be interesting if our journeys were different but equal?

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