We lead ourselves through daily routines. Each day we get up, we run a couple miles, we take our shower, shave, make our coffee. We journey out of our home towards our work place, to grind away beneath a massive umbrella of overseers. We toil away our minutes, our hours, our days, our weeks, our months, and our years.
The mere fact is we have so much time, but what we fail to realize is how little time we really have. The universe around us is vast and unimaginable. It was once thought that the stars were static structures, fixed heavenly bodies hanging high above us. The mere rocks beneath our feet will outlive us by billions of years. What is our life in comparison to that? No, each day, each second, is a gift.
We waste our time arguing over semantics and matters which have no deep value. We watch TV and read books about other people’s lives, then discuss these insignificant figures, while all the while neglecting living our own. We kill over who exactly is responsible for the very gift we are stealing by the action of killing itself. The logic there is baffling to me. It does not matter, nor will it ever. Religious orientation is not to be blamed. Human nature however, is quite guilty. These things are stealing our true souls from us and our inaction is stealing our own lives from ourselves.
Veritasium does a great job of summing up a lot of what I mean here in a video he made after visiting Chernobyl and standing witness to the desolation that is still present after all this time.
Now I keep my life fairly simple, and in so doing I have removed a majority of the drama and headaches many others deal with on a daily basis. Instead I fill my life with intellectual and physical challenges. I watch as my friends and family burn away their time, wasting it frivolously. I see morbidly obese patients who are unable to move from their bedrooms, and grown adults who are too afraid to walk through a cemetery at night. I hold my tongue as people turn away from opportunities daily, their hard and clear “No’s” resonating throughout my being, like a death song over ocean tides. Real, true life experiences, wasted…so it’s time that I say something.
I understand fear, I do. It is precisely why I am writing this post. Not to bring attention to the inevitable nihilistic journey of the cosmos, but to bring out the very best in you. In my reader. In a person that I don’t even know. I was afraid of heights once, and I suppose I still am. Yet if you look briefly through my military experience you will see that I have jumped out of perfectly good planes and helicopters, and not just once.
Years back I was discussing some hard decisions I would have to make concerning my future career in science with a mentor, a Virologist. I was balancing work and school and struggling to pay for college. It was effecting my grades at my university in a negative fashion. She had the gall to tell me to my face that, “You are what you do.” This infuriated me. I am not what I do, I am not a mere lab assistant, I am worth more than that. I deserve to be on the top. I work day and night to be better than my peers, so I deserve that. I left politely, though I was internally enraged. How dare she think that a person is only worth what they do! People have dreams, and hopes! People aspire to be better versions of themselves, to improve upon who they once were, who they were the day before.
It took me three years before it hit me. Three hard grueling years where I was, and arguably in a sense still am, extremely hard on myself. Yet, one day I had an epiphany. She was right. She was more right then I could have ever imagined. You see, she was wiser then I was, and she knew the value of experience. She understood the amount of time in a day, and how truly little there is of it.
I had been young and optimistic. I was burning at 1000% and the world was my oyster, but unless I turned all that energy, all that drive, into something that was legendary. Unless I turned all my efforts into something worthwhile, then it was all for not. I would die working at a comfortable job living a comfortable life. I would have lived sure, but I would not have come close to living. I challenge you to remember that everyday. I challenge you to embrace that. You are what you do, so do things that will go down in history. What do you have to lose? If you give yourself to something, if you give every fiber of your being, every wispy tendril of your soul, to a problem that humanity is facing, and you fail…then what have you lost? Nothing. If you are not remembered for a great contribution, no worries, you wouldn’t have been remembered anyways. At least you actually tried.
I could stop here you know, I could stop right here and this would be a great post to blog, but this isn’t about the blog. This isn’t about me. This is about the great injustice that humanity is doing to itself every day. What you are doing to yourself everyday. Students today are voting with their feet not to go into the subjects of chemistry, physics, and math. They are instead enrolling in media based majors. Obesity has become an epidemic. If I go out to a bar and have a Killian’s, the adult’s around me are more enthralled with celebrity news then the New Horizon’s probe fly-by. If you ask a random passerby what a ‘mitochondria‘ is, they almost unanimously (which as a biochemistry major is heart-breaking) have no idea what you are talking about… even when you narrow the term down by category.
These people are not dumb. You are not dumb. They are merely misguided. They are too comfy. They are stagnant.
Most of all they are afraid. They are afraid they are not smart enough. They are afraid of the amount of work they would have to put in, because let’s face it science is hard. Innovation is hard. Creation is hard. Their They are afraid they will have trouble finding a job. Look at the current job market, it hasn’t been friendly despite its recent upswings. It is understandable to worry about your career and job earnings. That doesn’t remove the problem though. You can work two jobs, plenty of people do it. The status quo can be a peer-pressure social vacuum that will suck you in. Sadly, it often does not yield you the results you were after. Some people will indeed find fulfillment. However, are we going to build a monument to them at Harvard’s entrance? Are we going to sculpt their likeness on the side of a mountain? Are we going to name planets after them? Most likely not.
In the end you can’t take the money with you. At the moment you can’t live forever   . If you could would you really just watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Pretty Little Liars’ in your free evenings? Would you just raise children and work at your job? Would you really, truly, decide to be that boring with all that time? There are ‘Holy Grail’s’ and unsolved theorems all throughout the sciences, whether it be in health, genetics, physics, or math. You know you could instead pour a little money and time into developing a super computer and aid NASA and Google in computations. You could learn to develop software and new products which are usable in space. You could be at this very moment sifting through scientific data and aiding the betterment of mankind.
The possibilities are limitless.
I am not saying go quit your job, especially if you rely on it. What I am saying is turn off the TV, and start finding a way you can be your own boss. You learned so much while you were in school, then you got comfortable in your comfortable job and your comfortable life and you let your brain (and maybe your stomach as well) turn to mush. Turn it back on! Power that sucker up! We live at a phenomenal time. We have the history of human ingenuity and creation at our fingertips, hell, in our pockets.
My point is YOU are the only reason you are who you are. There is no ceiling above you, there is no limit to your abilities. Your life is yours. What you decide to do when you wake up each day, how you spend the time you have here, on this planet, in this dimension, defines you. Be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t yield to failure. Get your friends and family excited about learning again. Build an environment around you where your mind can be nurtured, where you can be pushed and challenged.
If you aren’t physically and mentally drained when you go to bed, you could have gone harder. You could have lived more. Always say yes to new opportunities. Always step outside of your comfort zone. It is the only way to grow. Become powerful.
Become a legend.
Enjoy the tunes and see you at the top.