In all the aeons we have lost nothing, we have gained nothing - not a speck, not a grain, not a breath. The universe is simply a sealed, twisting kaleidoscope that has reordered itself a trillion trillion trillion times over.
Each baby, then, is a unique collision - a cocktail, a remix - of all that has come before: made from molecules of Napoleon and stardust and comets and whale tooth; colloidal mercury and Cleopatra’s breath: and with the same darkness that is between the stars between, and inside, our own atoms.
When you know this, you suddenly see the crowded top deck of the bus, in the rain, as a miracle: this collection of people is by way of a starburst constellation. Families are bright, irregular-shaped nebulae. Finding a person you love is like galaxies colliding. We are all peculiar, unrepeatable, perambulating micro-universes - we have never been before and we will never be again. Oh God, the sheer exuberant, unlikely face of our existences. The honour of being alive. They will never be able to make you again. Don’t you dare waste a second of it thinking something better will happen when it ends. Don’t you dare.
"Do you not then hear this horrible scream all around you that people usually call silence?"
1. Fail early and often; time is your best asset
When you are young, your greatest asset is not your talent, not your ideas, not your experience, but your time. Time grants you the opportunity to take big risks and make big mistakes…
2. You can’t force friendships
There are two types of friends in life: the kind that when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like nothing’s changed, and the kind that when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like everything’s changed…
3. You’re not supposed to accomplish all of your goals
Spending the first two decades of our life in school conditions us to have an intense results-oriented focus about everything. You set out to do X, Y or Z and either you accomplish them or you don’t. If you do, you’re great. If you don’t, you fail. But in my 20s I’ve learned that…
4. No one actually knows what the hell they’re doing
There’s a lot of pressure on kids in high school and college to know exactly what they’re doing with their lives. It starts with choosing and getting into a university. Then it becomes choosing a career and landing that first job. Then it becomes having a clear path to…
5. Most people in the world basically want the same things
In hindsight, I’ve had a pretty rollicking 20s. I started a business in a bizarre industry that took me to some interesting places and allowed me to meet interesting people. I’ve been all over the world, having spent time in over 50 countries. I’ve learned a few languages, and rubbed elbows with some of the rich and famous and the poor and downtrodden, in both the first and third worlds. And what I’ve discovered is that from a broad perspective, people…
6. The world doesn’t care about you
The thought that is so frightening at first glance — “No one cares about me!?” — becomes so liberating when one actually processes its true meaning. As David Foster Wallace put it, “You’ll stop worrying what others think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” You, me, and everything we do, will one day be forgotten. It will be as if…
7. Pop culture is full of extremes, practice moderation
My life immediately got about 542% better when I realized that the information you consume online is predominantly made up of the 5% of each extreme view and that 90% of life actually occurs in the silent middle-ground where most of the population actually lives. If one reads the internet enough, one is liable to start thinking that World War III is imminent, that…
8. The sum of the little things matter much more than the big things
I remember reading an interview of Dustin Moskovitz, the co-founder of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommate. The interviewer asked Dustin what it felt like to be part of Facebook’s “overnight success.” His answer was something like this, “If by ‘overnight success’ you mean staying up and coding all night, every night for six years straight, then it felt really tiring and stressful.” We have a propensity to assume things just happen as…
9. The world is not a scary place out to get you
This gets said all the time, but it’s basically true. I’ve been to a fair amount of dangerous shit holes both inside and outside the US. And when given the opportunity, the majority of people are kind and helpful. If there’s one piece of practical advice I would give every 20-year-old, regardless of circumstance, it is this: find a way to travel, and when in doubt, talk to people, ask them about themselves, get to know them. There’s little to no downside and huge, major upsides, especially when you’re still young and impressionable.
10. Your parents are people too
And finally, perhaps the most disillusioning realization of your 20s: seeing mom and dad not as the all-knowing protectors like you did as a child, and not as the obnoxious and totally uncool authoritarians like you did as a teenager, but as peers, as just two flawed, vulnerable, struggling people doing their best despite often not knowing what the hell they’re doing (see number 5). Chances are your parents…
Favourite quotes by person: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Yeah, you only live once.
Henry now sleeps is a stable next to the house and each morning sticks his head through the kitchen window steal toast from the toaster.
Henry, who wears a pink collar, has developed a noise the children describe as a choo-moo - as if he is trying to bark, just like the dogs
Bless this cow