Great People or Great Circumstances

If you read enough biographies of famous and successful people1 it becomes painfully obvious that the greatest people all got incredibly lucky in their circumstances.

Not in that they born rich or well-connected, but that they were in a place where something could happen.

Steve Jobs’ career would have been very different if he hadn’t been adopted by parents living in Silicon Valley.

Napoleon wouldn’t be a name without coming of age during the French Revolution.

FDR would be just another president with the Great Depression and WWII. Same with Lincoln.

Alexander Hamilton would have been a nobody if he hadn’t gotten off his native island in the West Indies.

To be clear: all these people were very talented and made the most of their opportunity.

But we wouldn’t know their names if dumb luck didn’t give them a chance to be somebody.


  1. Are there biographies of non-famous and unsuccessful people? Maybe internal family biographies?

We All Died So That You Might Live

For a long time I thought our species had a way out of death: eventually we’d figure out immortality, become a multiplanetary species, and travel as far in the universe as our understanding of physics would permit.

We only needed enough time.

Then a friend pointed out to me that, no no no, such a thing could not happen as the universe would inevitably begin to fall back on itself and crush everything in existence. 1

So if literally EVERYTHING will one day cease to exist, what the f*ck is the point of anything?

Here’s my latest stab.

To enjoy consciousness today, all previous generations had to live and die:

“Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”

A lot of people had to die so that we might live.

Some people find inspiration in Jesus dying for mankind.

But I find it even more inspiring that all previous generations gave their lives so that humanity could march on, allowing you and I to enjoy consciousness at this precise moment.

And so that’s how I find meaning in death: dying will be a tiny part of that push forward.

Just a little more evolution, a little more progress, a small shot at giving more humans the chance at consciousness.



  1. I’d known this expanding/contracting universe fact for a long time, but apparently my desire to find purpose and immortality overcame my brain’s ability to combine that fact with the prior desire. This is a life lesson: our bodies and minds are often not incentivized to find truth