‘However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.’
One of the greatest lights to ever grace the universe with its presence, has been blown out. Professor Stephen Hawking, born on January 8th, 1942, the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death, has died on March 14th, 2018, the anniversary of Einstein’s birth. Time really is magnificent.
Professor Hawking was diagnosed with rare and extremely aggressive form of motor neuron disease (also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) when he was 21. Doctors gave him a prognosis of two years. So… only wrong by 53 years, then. He really was a remarkable human being. Always wanting to remain fiercely independent, he regarded himself as a scientist first, and a popular scientific writer second. Unsurprisingly, he wanted to be acknowledged as a normal human being, with the same desires, dreams and ambitions as the next person. This emphasises that just because someone has an ailment, does not mean they are any different. If anything, when someone with a disability remains able to achieve astonishing things, they will always be infinitely more remarkable.
It’s important to remember this, however… we’re all the same. We all feel similar emotions. We all go through comparable life experiences. Regardless of where we grew up, or now currently reside. I think we can sometimes lose sight of this fact. As unfortunate and saddening as it is, I hope the death of someone so iconic and highly recognised can help stimulate us to realise that yes, time is not infinite. We will all die. Why then do we promote hostility towards each other to potentially speed up this process? Do we not all want to enjoy life to its fullest? Stephen did this. After all, when he was younger, he was notorious for the wildness of his wheelchair driving. If that isn’t living life to its maximal capacity, I cannot think of anything that is.
A man with a crippling disability has become one of most recognisable individuals in our lifetime. If you need motivating to achieve greatness, Professor Hawking should be your inspiration. If you yourself are disabled, I think this quote from the man himself is a perfect summation of his life, and his work ethic…
‘My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.’
If you’re worried about your potential for greatness, please keep in mind that he was never the top of his class in school. He has openly admitted this. Being able to memorise lots of words in a textbook doesn’t prepare you for the complexities of life. Not everyone needs a degree to be successful. Besides, a large population of people with brilliant school grades and a respectable degree can still be unhappy, or unfulfilled. I have been in this situation before. In fact, I have only really just gotten out of it. The reason behind it? Change.
Changing your own personal surrounding and situation could be the catalyst for happiness, greatness, or both. For me, I want to leave the UK, and work internationally. That is my target, this is my goal, and I am 100% committed to it. Perhaps it’s time we all look within ourselves and try to decipher if we are truly happy and content.
If anyone remains doubtful about their future, and believe that they are ‘destined to fail’ and that there is ‘no point’ in continuing on your life trajectory, please keep in mind this final quote from Professor Hawking.
‘I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.’
I think the death of someone so influential can sometimes highlight an inevitability – our lifespan is infinitesimal. In fact, in terms of time, the human race is entirely insignificant. Yet, ironically, a large proportion of us believe that humans are the most significant thing to ever exist; that we vastly outweigh and surpass anything that has come previously. Let us put this into context. The big bang likely occurred around 13 billion years ago. In comparison, Homo Sapiens have lived for about 315,000 years. If we convert the big bang into a 24-hour day, humans have existed for approximately 1.26 seconds of that day. As a species, we are anything but special when scaled to the universal clock. So perhaps it’s time we treat everything with dignity, love and respect.
I thought I would end with a rather remarkable thought. Every atom in the body of every single living organism has come from a star in the universe that exploded. It’s rather poetic. Essentially, we are all made up of stardust, from the nuclear furnaces within stars. So perhaps, we are all equally as special as one another.