Stop. Take a breath.
We should never move so fast we forget to do the thing that makes us human: question. Even with the break-neck pace of the world, it's normal for us all to try to keep our head above-water in our own way. We may not know the headlines of the minute, but it'll fall into our inbox just a few seconds later. Mix that constant tornado of information with the natural urge for action and we might already be in the Matrix.
The idea remains to question. Why? What are we doing? What makes you feel alive, what floors you?
Steve Jobs hit the nail on the head for me when he said in the now-famous 2005 Stanford Commencement speech, "You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." We need to navigate our way through life at the present moment with what drives us further. You can't always know the destination, you can only sail toward it.
Stop, take some time to think. Figure out what's important to you.
I had to take a look back for myself after listening to an 11-year-old mathematician squeak and giggle his way through a TEDxTeen talk entitled Forget What You Know. Jacob Barnett pulled from the lives of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton to show that sometimes we need to stop learning and start thinking to become why the world will know us. Einstein was rejected from the local university because he was Jewish, Newton was shut out of Cambridge because of The Plague. Barnett is no different, he was held back from college at the ripe age of ten for a freak accident involving dropping some coins during his entrance interview. No worry, Barnett took to his work and spent his time home battling mathematical proofs our eyes most likely never saw in undergraduate work. He had Princeton professors check his work in his childhood home. While we may not have the luxury to say so long to our adult responsibilities, like Barnett did at age 10, it could be worth it to take a few minutes and really let your mind wander. Have you stopped to really question your own thoughts? Have you tested your beliefs? What does it mean to be a friend, to be in love, to be happy? Why, oh why, are we all here?
When I started to search myself, I realized what my brother meant when he said," You know, Dan, you consume a lot of media." When is it time to process everything we're devouring? We start to become collectors of our collaborators. We question our way out by tuning in. Going back through my writing, there was hints of this message all over. Robin Williams captivated me weeks ago with his speech in Good Will Hunting about the difference between the smart-ass knowledge of youth and the old age wisdom of experience. THNKR interviewed John Hodgman of Daily Show fame about writing and I found him prescribing good experience, too, when he said, "It's not enough to write what you know, you have to know interesting things." Regardless of your political opinion of the man, Ralph Nader is a man we can thank for saving us all for flimsy car construction and life-saving seatbelts, among other things. With the assignment of his father, Nader used to ponder a topic all day long as a youngster and arrive at the dinner table expected to debate with his siblings. Even in the book I'm reading now, Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, urges for the time to think, to ponder, to step away from the table and tablet.
When all the lessons are pointing at once, it's great to pull back and experience the big picture when you can. We're given so much, it's hard to remember to create, even if it just means our own thoughts. Make your questions your own and make your way.
Until next time...
I explode into space.