‘I haven’t failed, I just found 10,000 ways it didn’t work’ – Thomas Edison
Our societal definition of failure is quite often associated with the lack of positive outcome or the deviation from our perceived state of success.
In today’s hustle and bustle, our jobs, the bills and the expectations from society, it is quite easy to get caught up in the ‘auto-pilot’ mode just to survive. Before you know it you are burning out and questioning yourself – ‘what is it that you are trying to achieve and who are you doing all this for.’
It is in these moments, that I find myself asking – ‘why are we here and what is the meaning of all of this.’ It is interesting to note that during astronomical events such as eclipses, new planet discoveries, etc, that I get reminded of the greatness of the universe with respect to size and scale. This also gives me perspective and appreciation of how minute the human life is relatively.
Every self aware being will question its existence, its origins and its future. There are many theories and speculations of our existence as human beings. These speculations range from us being in the Matrix to the Earth being an alien experiment to other far fetched theories. There are other theories that we have earned our right as the dominant species through the evolutionary process as such our fundamental purpose is to progress and reproduce to ensure our survival as a species. Furthermore, there are countless explanations of our existence from a religious perspective.
Without delving into the accuracy of these theories and principles with respect to our origins and future, what does all this mean to you and I as we exist today. How do we find meaning in our lives today to influence a better tomorrow? How do we make sense of our existence and the things as a consequence of this rationale? What is this journey represent for us and where do we fit into the big picture?
My moment of epiphany occurred as I was driving on the motorway, taking in the sunny weather, marveling at the roadworks that were creating a new access tunnel that will solve all our traffic problems, and there was also a billboard of a newborn baby advertising nappies. A series of thoughts occurred in a flash, it wasn’t so long ago that we were living in caves, with the first modern humans emerging some 200,000 years ago. In comparison to the age of the Earth which is estimated as 4.5 billion years and the universe at 13.8 billion years, this time frame is so minuscule!
Yet in that period we have managed to create technology, social norms and sciences, religious beliefs and architecture to all the intricate workings of our functioning societies that is unparalleled among any other species on this planet and the known universe. Although, there are various schools of thoughts on the success of the survival of the human race and its life on Earth in comparison to its neighbouring planets, but we are here, today, in this moment.
With all the experimentation and selection to get us successfully to where we are today, perhaps we should appreciate and learn as much as we can of the various fields of study and culture that is available to us today. On reflection, this was perhaps the meaning that I was seeking, the progress of our species from the caves to skyscrapers, the sacrifices and quest for knowledge that has led to the information age today. Even a small cup of coffee would not have not been possible without the furtherance in brewing and ceramic manufacturing techniques.
A polymath has a few definitions, a commonly used one is ‘a person of great learning and knowledge.’ Our time here in the grand scheme of things is limited, however I believe to become a better person and pay homage to our ancestors, learning and knowledge are essential for this betterment. Thus, the Polymath Life explores the human experience and the knowledge that occurs from these learnings. In the words of John Lubbock – “what we see mainly depends on what we look for.”