As we reach the end of September, the conversation topic du jour has already degraded from catching up after the summer to excessively complaining about Georgetown’s mediocre facilities, the excessive workload from our classes and our straining extracurricular activities. It has not even been a month yet, and it seems that stress is slowly taking over our free souls of the summer.
It is times like these that remind me of comedian Louis C.K.’s stand-up show “Chewed Up” in 2008. The bit is about how ridiculous it is when people forget how amazing our world actually is. On the topic of airplane passengers who complain about having to sit on the runway for 40 minutes, he then asks, “What happened then? Did you fly through the air like a bird incredibly? Did you soar through the clouds impossibly? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight? You’re flying! You are sitting in a chair in the sky.”
The actor-comedian does have a point. Once we see through the surface of our complaints, we can see just how amazing life is. It often just takes a slight change in perspective to alter the way you perceive the current situation and acknowledge the incredible wonders of our world.
Think of evolution and design. Humans are descendants of rodentlike mammals that were lucky enough to thrive after the extinction of dinosaurs. Of the thousands of species that lived and perished, what were the odds that our lineage would survive? What were the odds of the elements arranging themselves to make the universe as it is now? Some bring up the notion of a supreme being, yet the fact that our planet exists, revolving around a ball of fire 333,000 times its size, is thought-provoking and magnificent.
Think of your own position. We wake up every day to alarms on our phones and squint our eyes as we swipe across notifications. Little do we realize that in this groggy moment of the morning we are participating in something that would be considered magic to somebody 30 years ago. Your smartphone is a futuristic computer connected to the most powerful network of information, one that can access centuries of human knowledge. Because we see this as normal, we are blinded to the reality around us.
Even our bodies are a feat of complexity beyond imagination. Rarely do we realize that every day we wake up not the exact same person — at every moment there are old cells dying in our bodies and new cells regenerating. Neurons fire as the body picks up sensations around us, making new memories in the process. All those feelings, every iota of data, are then processed by our own supercomputer, the brain.
Perhaps there is a reason we are not amazed at the incredible around and within us. Maybe such blindness continues because our ancestors were rewarded for running away from tigers rather than philosophizing and reflecting. It also seems facetious and impossible to marvel at the incredible when we are called for separate reactions to other stimuli throughout our day.
Indeed it can be very hard to remind ourselves how privileged we are, but that is the point of the exercise: to open up our eyes and live to examine every situation more closely. As Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle, you can live as if everything is a miracle.” To take the conscious decision to find the miracles around us can be a great change in perspective and personally rewarding.
The next time you feel tired and burned out, exhausted from all the work to which you have been subjected, expand your vision and just remind yourself of how compelling and magnificent everything around us is.
Sudhanshu Sisodiya is a freshman in the College. MENTAL MUSINGs appears every other Tuesday.