Although most of Sunday will be spent yelling ‘Wakanda Forever!’ as I trudge about the house, dedicating yourself whole-heartedly to one thing for your entire life is just weird. Yet there is great pressure on ‘the youth’ to find their purpose in life, to join companies and ‘make a difference’ before you’ve even found your desk. It’s what they are continually spoon fed. What is the meaning of your life? You’ve just completed your degree, what will you apply yourself to for the next fifty years? Kerrrriiiiisssttttt! (Note: if it is Christ, that’s fine too).
Einstein, one of the greatest minds in humanity, studied physics but couldn’t hold down a job (the putz!) so became a patent clerk for seven years, following his scientific interests outside of that. He wrote theoretical papers (that seems a dichotomy!), gained a PhD and taught theoretical physics. Visiting the US in 1933, he stayed to avoid Hitler’s iron-grip, wrote to Roosevelt about the potential for nuclear war, got involved in the Manhattan Project, published numerous more scientific papers, championed Zionist causes, and yet his biggest joy in life was actually music. This from a man that couldn’t even count.
Beyonce is a singer of which I know nothing (wait . . . all the single ladies . . . oh-oh-oooohhh!!), yet she is probably one of the most influential artists in history. From starting out as a songstress and quickly becoming one of the biggest-selling female groups of all time, she is a writer, producer, film-maker, dancer, founded her own entertainment company, has her own fashion chain and music streaming service, and has become involved in numerous philanthropic charities. Her proudest moment in life is being a mother.
Elon Musk followed his father into engineering (Errol was a pilot, sailor, consultant, property developer and engineer), studied physics and economics, then became a developer. Elon’s first company was creating internet city-guides, then he started a financial payment system which later developed into PayPal, giving him money to explore his passion for space exploration, founding SpaceX. In the last ten years he’s started companies in electric cars, solar power, underground tunnelling, the hyperloop and combining his love of artificial intelligence with directly interfacing to the brain – of which he announced a breakthrough yesterday. One of those is an achievement for a lifetime, to accomplish all of them is mental. I have no idea what Elon’s love is, although being a complete twat on occasion to British divers is fairly high up there.
Each one of the above examples though starts out on one arc and diverges massively. To quote psychologist, author and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning, the meaning of life is searching for your meaning of life. It won’t be the same now as it will be in twenty years, nor even in five years, maybe not even this week. Today? Well, that’s already decided.
If there was one piece of advice I could give, it would be to take more risks: try different things; be curious; spread your net far and wide, as eventually you’ll find one or many things that will ignite your soul. Perhaps start with this basic premise from another black icon, Will Smith: “If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time”.
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