“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.” – Richard Dawkins
I’ll grant Richard Dawkins‘ views on life and death are controversial, but I still love this quote.
To me, it asks several important questions. Only the naive among us will never consider them and what they mean.
What is life exactly?
To me, life isn’t just waking up, breathing, eating, and muddling through your daily work. I think of that as stagnation.
Where life is the act of growing.
One may say “I’m growing. I grew by 20 pounds last year.”
That’s not the type of growth I am talking about, fatty. I mean growing in mind and developing your natural talents…Becoming more than what you are today — Getting smarter, stronger and becoming an expert in something.
If you aren’t growing, you are stagnant. Stagnant by definition means not advancing or developing.
When we talk about stagnant water, what do you think of? Water that is sick, murky, possibly infected with tapeworms. You don’t want to be infected with tapeworms do you?
Stagnant humans have their own murkiness. They might drink too much alcohol, suffer from depression, or worst of all settle for much less than they are capable. Much of the unemployment and recession woes are a symptom of people becoming stagnant. Not all can be blamed on stagnation, but a good portion can. People simply became too comfortable and trusting that what was easy would be there forever.
Becoming comfortable is a quick way to stagnation. The story goes as follows: He got a job. Liked the job. Did his work. Went home and watched TV for ever and ever. Amen.
Now, aside from that being the second most boring story on the planet, only eclipsed by The Great Gatspy, what can he expect if the company he works for is downsized? What if he gets laid off? What if his retirement account is raided like what happened with Enron? I guarantee, comfort will be the furthest from his mind. Panic will be the new best buddy.
But aside from avoiding calamity through growth, there is a joy we can experience too. Advancing our knowledge in our strong areas can be a lot of fun as well as lead to job security and advancement.
Increasing our expertise often leads to internal self worth and the respect of other people. Try it for a month and you’ll see. Pick up a challenging book that would increase your knowledge in your chosen field. Study it like you are preparing for an important test. Then come back and comment about how you feel.
I guarantee, if you study you won’t get tapeworms!
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