Do Most of Us Live Smaller Lives?

Photo by Adhitya Andanu on

Compared to whom?
Compared to the people appearing in Forbes magazine’s list of wealthiest people?
Don’t do it. Don’t compare yourself with anyone in those lists.
You haven’t been featured in an article in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal?
Never mind.
You’re doing yourself a disfavor to compare yourself with those folks.
Each one of us has their own value.
Joe Biden has played a powerful role in uniting the West to fend off Putin’s assault on Ukraine.
But many people made important contributions to make that possible.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, is often in the spotlight saying something or the other about the company. I’ve yet to hear him take a pause and say, ‘my thanks to the hundreds of thousands of engineers, designers and other talented contributors for what you bring to the finished product. I just keep an eye on things.’
Same with Elon Musk.
I live in a building made possible by the efforts of hundreds and hundreds of craftsmen with many different skills, all coming together to bring about the final product.
Were they living smaller lives as they did their work? Not at all.
I recently had surgery and got an excellent result. My surgeon, a lady, did a terrific job. To me she has more value than all those people in the lists mentioned. She’ll never make those lists, but she’ll keep extending the lives of lots and lots of folks who, in turn, will make their own contributions to others. Her life is not a small life.
In assessing whether our lives are small or large we have to be thoughtful.
The press and media in general will want to rank people based on their own metrics and values.
We must not forget our own values.
A good guide is to try to do our best with what we have and always search for what we could do better and which will give us greater satisfaction.
We don’t have a lot of time, so we shouldn’t be complacent.
Given the capacities nature gave us, if we try our best to express them, our lives will not be small. We should be the judge of that. Just us. We shouldn’t let anyone else sit in the jury.
Smallness comes from not trying our best, from not taking chances, from hiding from risk.
To those who do try their best, thank them for their efforts.
Jonas Salk and Alfred Sabin gave us the vaccines against polio, sparing lives and deformities.
Countless mathematicians, physicists and computer programmers have changed our world through advancements in communication and brought us closer to each other.
There are people who have worked to make wood as hard as steel so we can build skyscrapers with wood instead, and so cut the huge carbon emissions that come from steel making and concrete. I don’t know their names and you probably don’t either but their lives are not small.
They’re doing their best with what they have.
That’s what all of us have to do, and our lives will not be small. Never mind the media., apple podcasts.

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