Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Eureka Rhino


My girlfriend recently took me to the Harvard Museum of Natural History to prep for a field trip as part of her unit on rocks and minerals. While this was the first time in my entire romantic history I had to do homework as part of a date, I genuinely enjoyed getting to learn about the unique properties of quartz and pyrite and the composition of meteorites from outer space.

When I had finally filled in the worksheet to her satisfaction, we made our way through the museum's other rooms, and that's where the "Eureka!" moment that led to this blog happened. I'm wandering semi-aimlessly through the Indo-Asian Birds and Animals exhibit, and I start staring at a life-size replica of the (very endangered) Sumatran Rhino, and suddenly it hits me, "I can't believe how lucky I am to be human."

Surrounded by rooms upon rooms of animals, insects, and birds, I remembered that the odds of being born human, considering the over 8.7 million species on Earth and the potential innumerable life forms beyond our planet, is like winning the Mega Millions times a factor of a billion. We are the only known species that has the ability to fully appreciate our senses, understand the universe around us and utilize our intellects to broaden that understanding.

Unfortunately, the complementary thought to appreciating our unique gift is that it's a gift that is finite, only occurs once for certain, and its end is inevitable. It's also a feeling that can come out of nowhere and be incredibly terrifying. One day you're watching Doctor Who and poor Rory gets shoved into a black hole or shot by a cosmic time bullet for the hundredth time, and you realize life is precious and fragile and you suddenly feel like you're drowning and getting hit in the chest with a sledgehammer at the same time. (I admit, that last statement was a fun exercise in seeing how purple I could make my prose.)

My point is that while we have received this incredible, limited-time-offer opportunity, in my observation I don't see people make that realization that often and make full use of the incredible gift of our brains. I'm definitely not saying everyone needs to turn off their TV/smartphone/Wii forever and dedicate their lives to testing string theory, because entertainment is one of the many unique creations we get to fully enjoy as human beings. Instead, people should think outside themselves once in a while. It's a far more personal version of what Neil DeGrasse Tyson is advocating in his new book. While other topics are important, hey, let's spend a little bit more attention and energy on space exploration. Space exploration, in this case, being akin to finding and pursuing a passion, overcoming fears, playing sports, and discovering other ways to keep your mind, and really, your whole self from turning to mush.

This blog definitely is not going to be as preachy as that prior paragraph. There won't be any "How To" posts or life advice either, since I can't overstate how seriously unqualified I am for all of that. I don't even often practice what I just wrote. This post instead represents what I hope will be underlying tone for this blog, as I reflect on various learning experiences from my somewhat nomadic life and share topics I find mentally engaging. This blog, in short, is going to be a tool to help me recognize develop my impactful "Sonic Trail" (BAM! Overtly cheesy and forced personal branding!) through life and make the most of my humanity.

No comments:

Post a Comment