In five billion years.
Now, I admit, this is not a great scenario. But I wouldn’t say I’m too worried (mostly because of the five billion years part). And while I find it very interesting to learn about, the fact is, I don’t actually care.
But some people do care. A lot. So much so that they are devoting big chunks of their lives to fixing this problem of the earth getting swallowed by an exploding sun in five billion years. I watched the show Through the Wormhole last week (that it’s narrated by Morgan Freeman alone makes it worth watching), and it told the story of all of these different potential solutions for keeping humanity alive after our star burns out. The ideas were, um, inventive (like creating a tiny black hole that could power a space ship to take us all to another planet). But what I found most compelling were the people behind the solutions.
They actually cared about this problem. A lot.
And as far as I’m concerned, that is what makes our system work. The sun? Okay, sure. We need that. But what really makes humanity tick is that we each care about completely different things. And we care so much that we build great stuff around those things.
To Care is to Feed the Spring
In simple terms, you build your company or your freelance business or your career or your research interests around the thing you care about, more than anything else. That’s the link to the real world. So, for me: I care about people feeling connected. Specifically, I care about giving people the right words, so they can say what they want to say and connect with people. Voila!: A thing I care about = a business.
Now, I should pause here to say that many of us care about family, first and foremost. But I’m actually not talking about priorities—that’s a different conversation. I’m talking about the thing you care about in the world that needs a solution (which could certainly be related to family). The thing that makes you not care if other people think you’re a nut.
For example, when I was watching a scientist on Through the Wormhole describe how we should harness an asteroid belt to fly around our solar system 10 million times, coming near the earth every 200,000 thousand years, and pulling the earth back a few feet each time with its magnetism so the earth would be just far enough out of the sun’s reach when it exploded (or somesuch), I admit, I yelled at the TV: “Dude, you’re a nut. Why do you care so much what will happen in five billion years?”
But then I realized that if he didn’t care, something would probably be missing in the world. Optimism or grand thinking or ingenuity.
When you care about something—even a thing that only a small fraction of other people care about—there’s an energy that comes from that, and it isn’t specific to what you’re trying to build.
It’s like just the act of us all caring about a bunch of separate somethings creates this big reservoir of potential. An endless spring of inspiration. You make deposits; you make withdrawals. You get to be part of it, just by caring about stuff and then working hard at what you care about.
I may not care about what you care about. But I care that you care.
I don’t know if this is a message you need to hear. But let me tell you what: I need to hear it. Because sometimes it feels like no one cares that I care. And truthfully, what I do is fairly easy to communicate to people. So if I feel this way, I can only imagine how it is for people who care about stuff on the fringes—stuff that is harder to see, harder to explain, or harder to link to immediacy (like five billion years).
But please keep caring. And building stuff. You’re feeding the spring. And humanity needs that—at least for the next five billion years.