Albert Einstein and Chuckie Sullivan

“You don’t owe it to yourself, Will. You fuckin owe it to me.” -Chuckie played by Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting, one of his few good parts. I was reading in Einstein’s biography I just picked up today about how Einstein was watching a bunch of soldiers marching to the sound of a music recording. He was always a rebel for authority, and had a dereliction for free thinking and creativity. He greatly opposed the soldiers’ marching, saying that it was a mistake to give them great big brains.
My question then is, is it my duty to the world to somehow contribute to it, even if that means giving up maybe other things I may want? Sean, in the movie, he goes after his girl and lives a fantastic life, but then he never really contributes anything to society, while Paul, his old roommate and colleague, goes on to publish great new math theorems that win him the Fields medal. So did Sean waste his talent, or was he fulfilling his life? Sometimes I feel like that, I’m sure we all do. That we have something maybe we’re really good at or could be at, or something we’re supposed to do with our lives, but maybe it’s not exactly what we want. I guess what I really want is to look back on my life and feel like I contributed something to the world that nobody else could, and at the same time have a freaking blast. But the more and more I read and see what it takes to be the leader in your field, the more I realize that the reason why not everybody is an Einstein or a Kant is that it’s a huge sacrifice. THere is a cost to everything. Einstein was a loner, he would sit by himself and read geometry and solve problems. Most people, including myself, enjoy reading but probably more thoroughly enjoy comraderie with friends and hanging out. What about Brian Tracy when he says, “don’t spend time uselessly in pointless social activities.” I was talking with my roommate and we discussed Tiger Woods one night. He said that Tiger didn’t have a life growing up. He played golf all day every day, for his whole childhood. Now, he makes millions of dollars playing golf and he’s the best in the world. But I had a childhood. That’s the price he paid for what he has.
Maybe the bottom line is you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can either spend years of your life perfecting the recipe, open up a bakery and then giving your cake away to orphanages and the homeless, and maybe your cake may actually be some type of vaccine for HIV and bam you’ve contributed to society. Or you can go to Leatherbys with your friends and eat cake that you like and have a good time. You can’t really do both.

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