A World That Isn’t Ours

There are times when I get down on myself, when I feel like I haven’t accomplished enough in my 28 years of life on Earth.  I question whether I am making the right decisions, if I couldn’t be doing something else…something better.  And when I begin to doubt myself in this way, I feel like throwing everything I have right out the window and starting over from scratch.  Nothing would be spared.  I’d sell my Stuff and move to some exotic place, leaving behind all of my friends and family.

It would be my rebirth.

I could be anyone I wanted to be, anywhere I decided to settle and spend my time with whomever I chose.  I could make new friends and experience a life beyond my imagination.  Sometimes I find myself dreaming about the different places I could be…at this very moment.  Maybe I’d be running through Central Park or wandering the Great Wall.  I think about the type of person I could be.  Maybe I’d be a  wealthy clothing designer in Milan or a homeless transient wandering through the most beautiful places nature has to offer.  I could be this, I could do that, I could be there….but I’m not, thrice.

I dream of all the things I’m not, in the process forgetting all that I am and how good my life actually is.  I have a home, copious amounts of food on the table, nice clothes to wear and a girlfriend who shares my passion for travel and puts up with my (many) idiosyncracies.  I have everything I could ask for, I know it, and still I have moments when I want more, different, better.  I am consumed by thoughts of what I’m not and all that I don’t have.

Life’s forbidden fruits lure my mind into feeling this way, into the feeling that all that I am isn’t good enough.  Into the feeling that happiness is “out there.”  All the beautiful places calling to me like a siren’s song, the smooth skin and plump lips of a beautiful woman across the room tempting me, the “promise” of a more satisfying life with more money.  All these things seductively asking me, “Is your life good enough?”  I feel like a child with my face pressed tightly against the display window of a candy store, looking into a world that isn’t mine.

And suddenly my perfect life doesn’t seem so perfect anymore.

As I imagine myself in that other, better life, I try to envision how that life would play out.  Would living somewhere else really make me happy?  I suppose it’s possible.  I am happier today than I was a year ago when I moved away from my hometown.  I wonder if a supermodel girlfriend would be any better than the girlfriend I already have.  It might be fun for a while but in the long run, I don’t know that things would really be that different.  Besides, Erin is beautiful and we get along great with each other.  Would new friends make life more interesting?  Maybe.  The friends I have now are really cool but more friends is never a bad thing.

Then what is the answer to these problems?

This is one of the fundamental issues with self-improvement; where to draw the line and accept the life you already have.  To know when good enough actually is good enough.  If we’re always seeking improvement in our lives, ultimately we will realize that there is no upper-limit.  There will always be more, different and better.  And someday we might find that we threw away a perfectly good life in our quest for an even better one.

There must be a point when we say to ourselves, “Yeah, that’s really nice but I’m happy just where I am.”

That point needs to come before we ruin the lives we already have.  We should improve our lives but within reason and rationality.  There is no reason to destroy a good life in our quest for greatness.  Real improvement comes from building from the foundation you’ve already established.  Improve the relationships, strengthen the bonds, improve your character, change your life for the better but without casting aside everything you’ve worked so hard for already.

As for that world that isn’t ours?  Maybe it isn’t ours for a reason…we just don’t know what the reason is and maybe we aren’t supposed to.

Life’s Limiting Reagent

One of the components of the fuel mixture on the Apollo lunar module involved a reaction with hydrazine and dinitrogen tetraoxide.  If the balanced equation for this reaction is:

2 N2H4 (l) + N2O4 (g) → 3 N2 (g) + 4 H2O (g)

What volume of nitrogen gas (measured at STP) would result from the reaction of 1500 kg of hydrazine and 1000 kg of dintrogen tetraoxide?

If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a Chemistry class, allow me to refresh your memory on (or introduce you to) limiting reagent problems.  The purpose of this problem is to identify which of the two reactants will be consumed first in the reaction, either the hydrazine or dinitrogen tetraoxide.  By determining which reactant is limiting, you can calculate exactly how much product, in this case nitrogen gas, will be produced.

Consider your own life.  Are there aspects of your life that you can identify as limiting your potential to grow, expand or produce?  Is there something preventing you from realizing your maximum potential?  Are you as happy as your heart tells you you ought to be?  Are you earning what you’re worth at your job?  Are you free from debt?  Does your schedule allow you to pursue goals, hobbies and passions or do you wish there was more time in the day?  Are you active and healthy or is it a struggle to climb a couple of flights of stairs?

Consider your own life and all the factors you have identified as being the limiting reagents.  Consider the money problems, your unsatisfying career and your neglected and deteriorating relationship with the love of your life.  Take a few moments to really consider your life and all that is limiting it.

Consider them and ask yourself, “What do all these things have in common?”

The answer is you!  You are the common bond and, therefore, you are the limiting reagent in your life.  Not the money.  Not the career.  Not the schedule.  Not the debt.  Not the kids.  Nothing is limiting your potential but you.  No one else is restricting your happiness.  The possibility of your life is only possible with your effort.

Your life is a chemical reaction.  If you want a little more product – more results, more happiness and satisfaction, more money, no debt, that old spark – you’ve got to add a little more YOU to the mixture.

Want to get out of debt?  Add a little more effort on your part to get out of debt.  Want to lose weight?  You have to start exercising and eating right.  Are you sick of your career?  Find a more meaningful method of supporting yourself financially.

You can’t expect a chemical reaction to happen without adding the right amounts of chemicals and you can’t expect your life to improve or progress any further without YOU being proactive and aggressive.  If you want more product,  you must add more YOU to the reaction.

Now that you’ve identified the real limiting reagent in your life, add as much of it as you can and produce as much product as your life will allow.

Class dismissed!