In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari argues of mankind’s unique and overwhelming desire to make the world his. Homo Sapiens have evolved over millennia not just to subsist and pass their genes to the next generation, but to thrive in ways unseen before in history. Through a number of technical and cultural revolutions, we have developed the ability to understand our position in life, and with such advances has come a much greater capacity for understanding our place in the world.
There are an estimated 8.3 million species on planet earth, yet only one – humans – divide themselves into such complex social strata, practice religion, engage in global war, and have the ability not just to use resources to turn into tools, but to tinker with and improve them over time. These “simple” ideas of what it means to be human are actually incredibly complex.
Oftentimes (read: almost 100% the time), we take these advances for granted.
It’s a miracle that you’re here – the odds of you being the sperm that made it to fertilize the egg were about 1 in 50,000,000 (exact numbers vary greatly, but suffice it to say that the odds were NOT in your favor).
It’s a miracle that you can read what I’m writing – we’re the only species that has developed written language that follows universal rules.
It’s a miracle that you can [hopefully] understand me – the ability to interpret complex reasoning and draw conclusions based on intangible concepts such as time, space and probability is unique to us.
If we were to venture back to the beginning of the universe and hit the restart button, the chances of us ending up exactly where we are isn’t even on the spectrum.
Feel small yet?
What is your purpose?
While many of us accept that death is a part of the circle of life, it is hopefully fair to assume that the majority of us do not want to die; and certainly not suddenly. We have things we want to get done, or perhaps we aspire to gain some measure of public respect or prestige, maybe even make Forbes list of billionaires..
My question is: What is on your list?
In today’s world, we so often get caught up in the act of ‘battening down the hatches’ and putting in the work today so that we can reap some arbitrary reward or promise for ‘a better tomorrow’. There’s nothing wrong with that. But how often do we get so caught up in settling for the stagnant doldrums and banalities of today for unpromised dreams and visions of tomorrow?
To be clear, I’m not in any way arguing that we should abandon our vision of the future or blow our savings on the vacation of a lifetime – but I am suggesting that we take up a different long view:
Is your vision of your future going to be worth what you put yourself through today? Is sacrificing your youth that remains going to be worth that vision? Could you make a change to make today better, more comfortable, more fun, more worthwhile? I think there’s a nearly ironclad argument to be made for worrying about making 2017 worth remembering before being so intently laser focused on 2025 and beyond.
By being human, you were born blessed with astounding capacity to think, feel, create, and experience. Don’t blow this one, singular fleeting opportunity you have to make it worthwhile by falling victim to the mundane nuances of day to day life.
Where are you going to be, not in 2025, but tomorrow?
I know that personally, I’m going to resolve to live every day with the intent to make my family and friends proud of the man they helped create. The exact path that follows doesn’t need to be crystal clear – I just need to allow my actions to be guided by my vision and my values, and to let the rest of the chips will fall where they may.
If you’re too busy looking for tomorrow, you’re almost certain to miss today.