What lessons can we get from studying sand?

To speak of the “sands of time” provokes an image of shifting sands and dunes with the grains of sand being blown helter skelter.  The shape of sand dunes is constantly changing and taking on new forms. Sand seems so weak and has such a lack of substance.  We warn people not to build their house on sand.  Sand is not a good foundation.   Our lives and efforts can be like this sand. Think about how brief our lives and accomplishments are particularly when measured against the human races time line of progress.  It is very interesting that some achievements of humankind are still studied and talked about (for instance, the steam engine and polio vaccine) while the vast multitude of human efforts are long forgotten.  
What makes some deeds and inventions so important and worthwhile that they will last as long as the sands continue to blow and shift?  You are likely to say “well, they made a big impact on the human race or they made an important contribution to progress.”  If so, were these events just random or were they as predetermined as evolution seems to be?  There are many people who believe life is predestined and that all the patterns of life are predetermined.  My best friend keeps telling me that “choice is an illusion.”  I argue that while the system and government we live in has a major impact on our choices, we can still make choices that change things.  He denies that we change anything and insists we are simply part of the overall flow in life and that my so-called choices are really myths that I believe in. 
So looking back at history, did we really choose these epochal events that changed humanity, or did the events choose us? Did Socrates, Jesus and Abraham Lincoln really have a choice in their lives or where they simply under influences they had no control over?  If we could go back and change things in the past, would our lives be any different today?   If we could go back and reorder events, which ones would we redo or leave out? What if we had not invented the atom bomb? What if the very possibility of the atom bomb and relativity never existed? What if Einstein had never been born?  How would the sands of time have been different? Alternatively, would the inevitable blowing and shifting still have caused the same patterns? Would we still have had Hitler and Stalin?  Would someone else had invented the atom bomb and plunged us into another Cold War?  
What choices that you make today will affect your life tomorrow and the day after?  What accomplishments or efforts of your life will fit into the progress of the human race? What achievements or goals are you striving for that will be remembered in the sands of time?  Are they worth the effort? 

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