Tips for Life

In class, I hesitate to talk about anything unrelated to science because, although sometimes it would feel like a nice break, I would be stepping outside the boundaries of my job. Besides, you would be a captive audience for highly subjective topics. This way, by using the web site, if you are interested in my "life-tips", you could read on; otherwise, simply click back to science.

Understandably, for most adolescents there are many concerns that are not and cannot be part of a school curriculum, namely: finding and choosing a girl/boyfriend, selecting the right career, appearances, social reform and dealing with anger and depression ensuing from unmet needs.

Let's start with looks. Unless it is one's goal to end up on the cover of some magazine, it does not pay to worry about meeting a general standard of beauty. Lighting, grooming, mood, expressions, personality and the eye and mind of the beholder all influence how attractive somebody is. So it is unfair to view oneself and others as some fixed number on a scale of beauty. Sometimes the problem calls for less philosophy and more practical measures. For instance, when my wife first met me, she could not stand my hair. Here was yet another thing we had in common: I could not stand it either. Previously, I had never been motivated enough to do anything about it. Now I liked her enough that I was not going to let it get in the way, so I shaved my head.

Art work by E. Uva. Original drawing: 1979

Strangely, I could only draw and paint when depressed. So I stuck to science.

Sex and Love
Love is a complex emotion. Loving someone means that other people's needs genuinely feel as if they are your own. The energy that accompanies love has a strong overflowing tendency. It influences the way one perceives nature and the way one acts towards the rest of society. When an absence of love is institutionalized, we get anomalies like Nazism and terrorist groups.


Romantic love is even more complicated because it's tied in to sex. Having sex is easy, but one has to attain emotional maturity to enjoy enduring love. The hard lesson I learned is that one has to keep feelings in check; when they are not reciprocated-- for whatever reason--- incompatibility or immaturity, they have to be nipped in the bud. In general, the old adages apply: be patient, socialize regularly to increase the likelihood of meeting someone highly compatible, and don't hop into bed with every pretty face you meet. You will be better off marrying late than ending up divorced in middle age.

Career Choice
The average person is not enthusiastic about his work. He is not the one you want to talk to when contemplating a career. Arrange to meet the keeners, and if they make you feel that they are living what a part of you wants to grow into, you have found the right avenue in life. A good choice will involve both logic and emotion. I would never have been happy with accounting even though I was good in math. Chemistry and teaching were more appealing to me because they have more dimensions to them. They are tied into more of life's facets. For instance, I get a great deal of satisfaction from understanding what goes into my garden, food and medicines and from sharing that knowledge with people.

Social Reform
Once you have a career, buy a home close to your work place. If that's not possible then choose a job close to your home. The average person either buses or drives to work. That means they spend anywhere from $500 to $5000 per year in order to earn money. Over a 35-year career, that amounts to the needless spending of $17 500 to $175 000, excluding potential interest. By living within 1 or 2 miles of work you could enjoy walking, cycling or skiing, which are practically free. They are also excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise, and they are pollution-free. Moreover, since people spend an average of 1 hour per day commuting, over a 35 year career, they waste at least 7000 waking hours frustrated in traffic or inhaling the breath of strangers on the metro. Given that they are only awake 16 h per day, they spend the waking-equivalent of over 3 years of their already shortened lives (due to lack of exercise) driving back and forth polluting and wasting hard-earned money. Is that who you want to grow up to be? (Oops! Such language will aggravate lots of people, and besides, if I get killed on my bike by the drivers I insult, my calculations will be rendered meaningless.)

I love life, but it is always more complicated than our mindsets.

Biothemes and Life: More Amateur Philosophy