The Cone of Uncertainty

There it was again. I never really paid much attention to it until a man pointed it out to me.

"The cone of uncertainty."

Almost sounds like a science fiction movie or a ride at an amusement park.

I happened to be passing through one of the department stores pausing for a moment in the television section. Those large screen TV's always grab my attention.

"Wow! This is beautiful." I said.

"Are you certain?" The man asked me.

"Well, yes", I replied.

"You know there is a "cone of uncertainty" in everything," he said smiling.

Where did I hear that before?

"Aren't you sick of hearing about the "cone of uncertainty"? He said.

"I don't know what you..." he interrupted me.

"Right there on the weather report. They can fly men to the moon but they can't tell you exactly where a hurricane will hit. They always leave room for the "Cone of uncertainty!" He said emphasizing the quotation marks with his hands.

"Oh, that's where I heard that before. Well, it appears they can't be certain about things like that," I said.

"That's life! You can't be certain about anything. It seems to me that my whole life has been in that cone of uncertainty," he said sarcastically.

"Maybe you haven't been paying attention to that red line there in front of you," I replied.

He actually looked down at his feet.

"What red line?" He asked.

"There, do you see that on the weather report? They use the red line to mark the probable path of the hurricane. The cone you speak of is a variation of up to 200 miles."


"So, you've been traveling like an unpredictable hurricane. The difference is you can choose to stay on course or not," I said.

"When were you born?"

"1949," he replied.

I then took out a pen and paper and placed a dot on the edge of the paper.

"What's your name?"


"Hurricane Steve was born right here. Then you traveled all around the place as unpredictable as the weather never staying on a course, or having a plan to get to where you wanted to be. Today I'm standing right here next to you. Is this where you wanted to be?"

"Well, no."

I stopped drawing the line and handed him the paper.

"Now, plot a course you want to take. Make a plan. Have a goal. Create a future. Draw a red line toward a place you'd like to be ten years from now. No, it won't be straight. But each time it goes off course you can re-direct it."

He stood quietly looking at the paper.

"It's like a flight on an airplane. Say you want to go to San Diego. The pilot knows where he's going because he has a flight plan. But along the way, a storm arises, air traffic is heavy, or a hundred other reasons causes him to adjust the route. He made those changes along the way because he had to, but he arrives at his destination anyway."

Still nothing from him.

I turned and stood in front of him.

"Do you want to spin around in circles the rest of your life? Do you want to go crashing through life causing all sorts of damage?"


"Well, hurricane Steve, it's time to hit land, slow down and start heading in the right direction."

The only cone of uncertainty is not having a plan for your life.


The last I saw him that day was in the stationery department buying a red marker.

So where are you headed?

Bob Perks

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