Reality of tomorrow

“[J]ust as in the sciences we have learned that we are too ignorant to safely pronounce anything impossible, so for the individual, since we cannot know just what are his limitations, we can hardly say with certainty that anything is necessarily within or beyond his grasp. Each must remember that no one can predict to what heights of wealth, fame, or usefulness he may rise until he has honestly endeavored, and he should derive courage from the fact that all sciences have been, at some time, in the same condition as he, and that it has often proved true that the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.”

Robert Goddard

Someone wrote me:  I’ll take the heights of happiness and contentment please.

I said: The man is largely responsible for today’s achievements in space flight; the quote is grandiose, but he ended up fulfilling what he spoke. Hope is a thing with feathers.

He said:  …named Icarus. It looks good on paper, but in the balance of human experience lives such as his are the exception. A hardy dose of realism to supplant a bit of the all pervasive love of hope would do to serve people well.

I said:  I don’t think his statement is unrealistic. It is agnostic in the sense that he makes no definite prediction on what it is a person can achieve; the analogy with science is in fact solid on this point. We may not be able to pronounce what is impossible, doesn’t mean impossible doesn’t exist or that energy isn’t a constraint. The point is to honestly endeavor and the point is that the potential of honest endeavor reaches mind boggling distances from the point of origin.
The fact that the average person, having a typical constitution and their needs fulfilled, believes they don’t have a part to play in heralding the future is the problem we face; I definitely don’t see a clamoring for high achievement that needs to be tempered.
Thinking about the future is the basis of human cooperation and personal achievement. The day to day distractions, including social media, provide instant fulfillment that has the potential to degrade society (and therefore the person) by providing a continuous source of instant pleasure. Hyperbolic discounting, the phenomenon that the more into the future the result, the less likely someone will prioritize it, even if the outcome of directing resources thusly would produce much reward/prevent disaster, is problematic. An antidote against this would serve people better.
What I get from reading the biographies/autobiographies of various geniuses, is that they often appear manic or agitated because they have consciously or unconsciously rid themselves of this pervasive bias. But this inclination paired with today’s access to knowledge is unstoppable. You can engineer, build, hack. You can do/appreciate art. You can perform experiments, you can develop formulas and theories.  You can increase your flexibility and your strength. It takes approximately 10,000 hours of praxis to develop expertise. I dunno about you, but I have about 163,761 non-sleeping hours left, a conservative estimate if I’m not victim to an accident.
I say use your increase in life expectancy and first world comforts! Study a problem (or more) every day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s