Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Why Homo Sapiens Still Can't "Have It All"

There is no circumstance that people could possibly contrive for ourselves which would constitute "having it all".

"Homer was wrong," wrote Heracleitus of Ephesus. "Homer was wrong in saying: 'Would that strife might perish from among gods and men!' He did not see that he was praying for the destruction of the universe; for for if his prayer were heard, all things would pass away."
-Aldous Huxley 


Human beings are constitutionally incapable of "having it all".

Last summer's Atlantic piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter entitled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" started a national and international conversation about the Catch-22 pressures of being a modern woman. In particular, it highlighted the supposed impossibility of having a high-powered dream job and of being a good mother simultaneously.

I have not walked a mile in any of those shoes, so I will not hazard a comment on whether that is true (though I hasten to note that Slaughter's high-powered job was in a city that is several hundred miles from her home, which makes me doubt her credentials as an analyst of modern career women universally).

Needless to say, there was massive response to the original Atlantic piece, including plenty of dissent. The most interesting of which dissent, to me, is Esquire's recent "Why Men Still Can't Have It all", which is interesting largely in that is is not as reactionary and self-congratulatory as its title suggests.

But we have lost a certain perspective in the conversation about what opportunities woman and men do not have relative to each other. Namely, we have love perspective about what opportunities none of us have. 

None of us can "have it all" because it is inhuman to be satisfied with the status quo. My data for that claim? I have seen each of the following things: A Billionaire waking up to go to work. Somebody cheating on a supermodel. Architects planning to add to the size of New York City's buildings.

To have it all would be to have enough. Can people ever really get enough to be satisfied? 

Tennyson described something uniquely and essentially human when he used the phrase "to seek, to strive, to find, and not to yield." (Emphasis mine.) The most charming characteristic of human beings is that we are never happy with what we have, and can therefore never have "enough".

Anyway, the only thing worse than not having it all would be having it all.

Right? Isn't there something perverse in the desire (much less the expectation) to "have it all."

What is perverse about it? Let's consider Slaughter. It can't be her perfectly noble desire to be successful in her career and also to be a good parent (though I doubt that the popularity of an article about what a taxing pain in the ass to raise they are did Slaughter's kids much good). No, what is perverse about it is that if she, or anyone, really did have it all, that person would be, in a quite horrible and bleak and inhuman way, done.

But humans are never done.

Take a second to really think about what went into building New York City. It is a beautiful and absurd project, and its one that has never finished, and that never will, because no matter how much we have, we still can't "have it all".

Is the universe a graveyard? This theory suggests humanity may be alone.

Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?

According to the Great Filter theory, Earth might be one of the only planets with intelligent life. And that's a good thing (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team [STScI/AURA]).
Surprising Science

Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.

Keep reading Show less

Study details the negative environmental impact of online shopping

Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.

A truck pulls out of a large Walmart regional distribution center on June 6, 2019 in Washington, Utah.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
  • Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
  • Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
Keep reading Show less

Childhood sleeping problems may signal mental disorders later in life

Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.

A girl and her mother take an afternoon nap in bed.

Personal Growth
  • We spend 40 percent of our childhoods asleep, a time for cognitive growth and development.
  • A recent study found an association between irregular sleep patterns in childhood and either psychotic experiences or borderline personality disorder during teenage years.
  • The researchers hope their findings can help identify at-risk youth to improve early intervention.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Videos

    Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

    Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast