Threads of Influence

I know almost nothing about film director James Cameron, except that he directed 2 of the top 3 highest-grossing movies of all time (Titanic and Avatar). Yet his influence has reached my life several times, including at breakfast this morning.

We watched Titanic recently and it sparked again my imagination around the event. This led me to purchase A Night to Remember, a 1955 book by Walter Lord chronicling the fateful tragedy in detail. I finished the book. This morning I texted a friend about it.

Minutes later I sat at the table with my son and we talked about dogs. He brought up a dog named Avatar—a family dog belonging to my in-laws which was named after the movie by a 4-year-old 10 years ago.

James Cameron will never know my name or care about my life, yet his influence has sailed through the ocean of all human activity and come to port in my experience more than once.


I always wonder how many pictures I’m in and don’t know it. On someone’s refrigerator hangs a picture, and I am the in the background—the stranger they wish they had cropped out. I wonder if I’m picking my nose or tripping or scowling. We’ll never know each other, but they are familiar with my face. They see it every day.


There are hundreds of trillions of threads like this in all of life. What a web human activity has woven, and here we are on a tiny dot in the Milky Way, floating like a spec of dust in a dark airport hangar.

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