How I Wonder What You Are

Night Sky

Night sky in Upstate NY

Last weekend offered a chance to get away from it all and travel upstate. From the balcony of my room, I could see a huge swath of stars across the sky. As the night grew darker, the Milky Way stretched across the mountains. I took this shaky image by holding the shutter and increasing the exposure length. If you look carefully, you can see the galaxy spread further out into the night.

I was always a fan of science as a kid, but looking at the night sky would move me to a more philosophical frame of mind. I knew that stars were not just “fireflies” as Timón would say, but “big balls of gas burning billions of miles away” as Pumbaa suggested. While the scientific knowledge satisfied my logic brain, I began to think of deeper questions of existence.

The questions that cross my mind these days are still philosophical, but have moved from inward consideration to the outward. Gen Y is thought to be extremely self-centered, but I believe that’s just a misperception of a classic introvert trait. Yes, as we move/d through our adolescent years, we spend/spent a good deal of time worrying about ourselves, our appearance, our standing, but so have the generations that preceded us. We develop and learn that there are things beyond our microcosm, and Millennials are still progressing on that path.

The discord during the years that shaped our generation has made many of us examine all information presented to us. Learning from the problems of the past has led to a desire to collaborate, especially when everyone works together effectively. To say we are self-absorbed may not be inaccurate, but in helping others, we learn how to help ourselves. The deep question that I ponder aside from our legacy will be what defines us and “what can we give to future generations?”

I may not have known the words at the time, but I understood on a deeper level the need to connect with others. Teamwork is in my DNA, though solo projects can be just as pleasant. The quality that most unites people is empathy. I may not know each perspective of people I meet, but by listening to them, I can empathize and understand their views. Empathy leads to understanding and understanding leads to success for all people.

Millennials won’t take information for granted and will try to form their own opinions. We work out our own thoughts whether it’s what to wear or those deep philosophical questions we consider when looking at the stars. Take time to quiet your mind and consider these thoughts, and perhaps your contribution will present itself.

Is empathy our strongest tool/legacy? Share your thoughts.

Digital Displacement – Gen Y’s Existential Frontier For Control

ghostphone1

Two kinds of Millennials exist when it comes to our digital devices; one group is like the bowerbird, and the other group is like a hermit crab. Both groups use devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets, but they differ in how they deal with change. There are few moments in a connected Millennial’s life more traumatic than being disconnected for reasons other than one’s own choice. It is a sad tale of all the devices dunked, dropped, lost, taken, or otherwise out-of-service. The response that determines your metaphorical creature is your ability to handle control; it’s about holding control tenaciously, or going with the flow.

Bowerbirds are indigenous to Australia and New Guinea, and share close evolutionary ties with birds-of-paradise. The male bowerbird goes to great lengths in time and effort to build a bower to attract potential mates. Each male meticulously collects and adjusts his treasures to make them most attractive. If a leave should fall onto his masterpiece, he wastes no time removing it. This behavior is an attempt at complete control over your reality. I am not here to lecture on merits, but I will say that experience in gardening, technology, and traffic have taught me to beware the idea that we can control everything. When a person like this has a device disaster, it may take longer to recoup because of a dislike for change, and desire to be in control.

Those hermit crabs of digital devices are more go-with-the-flow types. If this is your trait, you can probably move from one to device to another with ease. Hermit crabs can be found on land and in the water, carrying their homes with them. In order for a hermit crab to grow, it must shed its tough older skin and find a shell to accommodate its new size. Though vulnerable until it finds a new shell, once in its new home a crab will happily continue its crab priorities. People with accounts and information they can carry from device to device may handle change with more fluidity. Yes, there can be hiccups and growing pains, but a user with experience of change will breeze by their bowerbird contemporaries. Spending energy for what you can impact saves on draining exertions to change the things we do not control.

Millennials are a generation of change. We were not born in a time where what was the norm will be the future as well. As society,  science, and technology push us further and further, we will need to adapt to change, or face the consequences of complacency. Learning how we can change ourselves or change the world all relies on an understanding of what we can control. It can be an upsetting thought that we don’t have any power in life, but it can also be extremely freeing. To wit, we may not control anything in life, but we have at least some control over our responses to what life sends us. We all have different experiences and challenges to face, but we all possess shared power to transcend challenges and get back to important things like happiness and fulfillment.

The next time you experience a device disaster, remember that these things happen. If you are able, try to take steps to keep your information safe and transferable, but don’t be overcome by anger or sadness for your tech. I can personally say that adapting to change has been a challenge at times, but I am happier. I can enjoy using technology, I can disconnect, and I can find a new shell when I’ve outgrown my old one.

 

Fun fact: Hermit crabs are not hermits by nature. If you see them in the wild, they are quite social, living in large groups of 100 or more. As time goes on they find shells by foraging, and can have a big shell swap with many crabs changing homes. Just like Gen Y, it helps to work together and share resources in case you can trade what you have for something that fits even better.

In Our Nature – Earth Day

If you are fortunate to have a little spring weather and the chance to step outside today, take a chance and enjoy the benefits of life on planet Earth. Now, as you breathe in a little fresh spring air, consider that you are, wherever you are, a citizen of Earth.

Millennials are paradoxical. We have ways of existing and understanding concepts that seem impossible to join. We are free-thinkers and individuals, but we like teamwork. Saying and understanding that we are all citizens of Earth is probably an easy thing for anyone in Gen Y, because we have become part of the global community since our introduction to the world. There is nothing wrong with special affinity for our country of origin or current homeland, but strict focus makes us miss the forest for the trees.

Earth Day and the environmental movement came to prominence about a decade before the first Millennial was born. In December of 1970, President Nixon signed a bill that created the Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier that year, celebrations for “Earth Day” were held as people began to see real need to address the health of our planet. A thank you is due to the Boomers and GI generations who saw the world their Gen X children were inheriting and moved to act.

Since those early days, Gen Y had Captain Planet to show us the way. Recycling programs, conservation efforts, and the foresight of older generations, have made Gen Y members attuned to environmental issues. By hearing stories about what we could lose, we understood that enjoying life in the moment did not supersede preserving life for those after us. Dr. Suess’s “The Lorax” was published in 1971, and it remains one of my most treasured books from my childhood. Someone must speak for the trees, speak for the animals, and speak for the people without voice, even if others try to speak louder.

I was very fortunate to grow up with access to urban areas as well as the natural world. On hikes I would hear the birds and insects. While kayaking, I would see fish and feel rocked by Mother Nature’s gentle waves. People forget that we were once a species in the wilderness. At that time our societies drew on our place in nature, not today’s view of being apart from nature. I dislike getting bitten by mosquitoes as much as the next person, but pulling ourselves out of the natural cycle is a dooming option. The famous book, “Silent Spring” about our use of the pesticide DDT showed how we could devastate the natural world at our peril if we were not careful. Our success in anything is not merely measured by our talents or good fortune, but by the home we share that provides the resources for our success.

While we walk on the Earth, we must be stewards of the gifts we have. If someone wished to give a favorite book or heirloom to another after their passing, they would treasure it and keep it safe. Each successive generation that preserves our world ensures all of us the chance to accomplish more as a species. We are in nature, and we must make sure that it remains in us. Go out and enjoy nature today. Make your mark by leaving no mark, take pictures, observe, protect living things, respect the natural world, and leave it better than you found it for those who follow after.

Happy Earth Day – 2013