With equal passion I havesought knowledge about minds and evolution. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the jelly fish shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Darwinian power by which algorithm holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Sugar and other substances, quadrillions of times smaller than me, too I have sought to understand and avoid. I would not be shocked if I have diabetes already, nor if, decades from now, my cause of death turns out to be cheesecake. Avoiding a little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Friendship and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always gratitude brought me back to earth to give back. Echoes of opportunities for awesomeness wasted reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, anti-touch societies, social people who didn’t geek, geeks who don’t socialize, and the whole world of loneliness, have shown how far we are from the end of the human experiment. I long to alleviate this evil, but I, alone, cannot, and I too suffer.
To remain awake at night was the promise of dreamland. A magical place where all your actions are justified, where the bohemian and the workaholic can both be you, where artist meets stallion meets rockstar. Above all the night was at one time the elixir of signaling youth, and a timeless space where I felt no reason to use time efficiently and direct attention towards anything in particular. After 10pm, existential risk, OkCupid and SMBC-comics were on a par, and the world too, suffers.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.
Analysis: Russell, who wrote the beautiful original on which this is based, was approximately as lucky as I am, in the timeless grand scheme of things. Being born 114 years sooner is a disastrous, unbelievably large disadvantage, but it can be overcome if you are the grandson of the British prime minister, had tutors to educate you, were visited by Darwin in childhood, are brilliant, lived 97 years, and had personal contact with the kings, czars and presidents of your era. 114 years later, I get to have equivalents or even improvements over most of his at the time hyper-scarce resources on the cheap, via division of labor, internet, and a globalized very large society living in the global macro metropolis of big cities.
The cost however is that what has provided me with advantages only dreamt of by kings in the late eighteenth century, comes now, like the water in a cactus in the desert, surrounded by thin layers of poison and thorns, which only great tools and long-term minds can reach. Many times I have fought against the addictive cacti of life. Few times I have won. This very writing itself is an attempt to signal, to me and to others, how more interesting my life will be if I at some point finally find a way out of these pernicious malignancies that separate me from a full potential.
I have come a long way, but as the amazing book title that never stops amazing me says: What got you here won’t get you there.