The Magnitude / Life Is Short

Happy New Year all!

Here’s a crazy thought that might help cheer up your year ahead.

Human life is ridiculously short to savour the magnitude of what the world actually has to offer.

Let’s say, there are at least a thousand supremely great movies to watch, and thousands (if not tens of thousands) of great books to indulge in. Hundreds of genius musicians to listen to, on a wide range of genres and languages. Nearly 200 countries to live in, and even Space if time and technology permits. Thousands of great paintings and artefacts that would blow you away. Countless cuisines and drinks that you will give your life for if you ever get a chance to taste them. (And of course, so many other levels of enrichments that I missed mentioning because I’m oblivious to). And god-knows-how-many kinds of people to meet and share all this!

So much to do, so little time. Only I’m not sure if this is a beautiful thought, or rather a very depressing one.

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Happiness and Truth – two sides of the spectrum

I have been in quite a discomfort for a few days now. I am not relating the inventive thought of Hemingway or Aristotle with that of mine (and my immature thoughts).  I am a person who believes happiness and truth doesn’t come as a package. It’s a choice a person has to make in his lifetime. I think most prefer happiness. Like religious people. They prefer God’s comfort over reasoning of faith. Faith doesn’t require thinking. Well, that’s why they call it faith. Blind belief. Whether that is true is a topic for another debate. As I was saying, some prefer truth. And most often, they find it hard to be happy. Some would argue that happiness is subjective and that in reasonable people’s case, happiness might as well be the search for truth itself. I disagree. They are not happy. The knowing process just makes them feel better.

Hemingway on Happiness

“All men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and in politics — even Socrates and Plato — had a melancholic habitus; indeed, some suffered even from melancholic disease.””
– Aristotle

“The dumbest creatures are always the happiest.”
– Colin Firth

“But hail thou Goddess,sage and holy,
Hail divinest Melancholy
Whose Saintly visage is too bright
To hit the Sense of human sight;
And therefore to our weaker view,
O’er laid with black, staid Wisdoms hue.” (Il Penseroso, lines 11–16)
– John Milton

Accumulative Advantage

There’s this one principle I always held close. A principle that explains everything about us. “Accumulative advantage”. A mere understanding that success and failures and whatever you have gained and lost – everything whatsoever – is because of advantages that you are not even responsible for. An understanding that all the good things that happened to you – was almost entirely by chance. Pure luck. 

And today, I was more than gratified when Melinda Gates (with Bill Gates) talked about that same principle in their Commencement Address at Stanford University. Here’s an excerpt: 

“There’s an essential ingredient of success, and that is luck. Absolute and total luck. When where you born, who are your parents, where did you grew up. None of us earn these things. These things were given to us. So when we strip away all of our luck, and our privilege, and when we consider where we’d be without them, it becomes much easier to see someone poor, and say, ‘that could be me’. And that’s empathy.”


Full speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wug9n5Atk8c

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