Obituaries are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives. I defy you to find a single obituary that begins, “Jane Doe won the Nobel Prize in large part because she was admitted to a prestigious, highly selective preschool. After that, everything just kind of fell into place.” Instead, you will read about dead ends, lucky coincidences, quirky habits, excessive self-confidence (often interspersed with bursts of excessive self-doubt), and a lot of passion for something.

Charles Wheelan on Revealing the Disorderly