What Keeps You Up at Night?

There’s an age old question that people get asked, “What keeps you up at night?” It’s in regards to the things each of us fear, can’t control, or are just plain bewildered by. I’ve noticed that life is not this simple road where you just make money, sip chocolate milk, and ride off into the sunset. There are complexities and nuances that are well beyond my understanding. Nevertheless, there are things that keep my mind flowing as I ask questions and contemplate things.

Why Do Some People Get Good Genes or Good Luck and Others Not?

A few years ago, my wife and I went to run a 5K. It was to help raise money for a little boy named Rex who had a brain tumor. At just a couple years old, he did not have long to live. We ran the race, donated our money to support his cause, and went along with the rest of our day.

That little boy has since passed away. I can’t imagine the struggle and heart ache that little boy and his parents went through. There’s plenty of little children who are healthy so I wonder why did he have a brain tumor and die early, not able to experience life and learn more?

There’s plenty of opinions on the matter ranging from God’s will to take him home, to just sheer bad genes and luck. I don’t know the right answer. Certainly, genetics and luck seem to play a role. Did Rex really choose to have a brain tumor and die early? Did he say, “Yes, I want a brain tumor and to die after a couple years?”

That is hard for me to believe. Rather, I think, that life forms around us, and we each have to work our darnedest to survive and push past whatever challenges we get. A great man once said, “We can’t control the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” It still just seems so unfair that some seem to be handed the short end of the stick in life…

Why Do Some Get Born in Poverty or Die Early, and Others Don’t?

Lindsey Stirling, the famous violinist, went to Kenya to visit an African tribe there. She mentioned how they had so little, but they were so happy. These are people who live in straw/mud huts, have a rundown school, but live life and seem to be happy just to be alive and experience it.

Yet there are others I’ve heard of that commit suicide even though they are millionaires. It makes me wonder if we just somehow have to choose to be happy and experience life in a happy/positive manner regardless of circumstance (like the wind and the sail mentioned above). And then what about those who don’t have all their mental facilities to make this choice?

And what about the great disparity of income in the United States and across the world? For instance, one can simply go to Google and search any publicly traded company with the words “SEC filings” next to the company to see how much Executives and ownership partners are making. When I see the disparity between that and the average worker and then to minimum wage and then to poverty in other countries, I wonder if it is simply marketplace value and nothing more, or if there is real inequality and lack of power for those at the bottom to do anything about it.

There’s a reason this article is about things that keep me up at night :)

Why Are There So Many Religions?

There’s plenty of religions in the world ranging from Scientology, Christiantiy, Islam, and even the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Yes it is true, there is the church of the flying Spaghetti monster.

The age old question is, “Is there really a God” or “Is it all made up?” I don’t know the answer to this at the moment. But it does seem to me that creating a religion simply requires some thought and looking at the demand for new ideas or concepts against what any people are currently unhappy or unsatisfied with. It seems that religions (and even other spinoff groups) form whenever someone or a group of people are unhappy with the current group or people in charge of that group. Over time, this seems to lead to multiple spin offs of new concepts and ideas.

Perhaps all of this is simply evolution running its course to further progress humanity. Either way, I try to understand those who have a burning belief that their religion is the truth and not offend them, but at the same time, seek to understand what really causes religious belief, and that leads me to my final point:

Why Is Fear So Powerful?

I paraphrase the astro-physicist, Neil Degrassee Tyson:

Back in the 1960’s, the United States was at war with Russia. As Russia released a little satellite, “Sputnik”, the United States was stirred into action and accelerated the NASA space program to get someone to the moon. This was all done out of fear of Russia being more powerful than us and more technologically advanced. Once it was seen that Russia was not ready to go to the moon, the United States stopped going to the moon.

The reason I bring this up is because I think as humans, we’re afraid of the following:

  • Death – Afraid of losing what we have in life and of the unknown after it.
  • Being Alone – Afraid of nobody loving us or not finding love/soul mate.
  • Poverty – Afraid of not having much.
  • Pain – Afraid of physical and mental pain.
  • Being Useless – Afraid of not being needed.

Fear is powerful because any of these can be focused on and triggered for people to make decisions about religion, employment, what to buy, who to hang out with, who to listen to, etc… As I try to understand fear better, I understand myself better and what makes me act on impulse and make unwise decisions sometimes.

I mention fear because it is a powerful motivator and if we don’t consciously think about it, then someone can play on our fears to get us to do something for them that we may not otherwise do. So far, I see recognizing my fears, but controlling them, as a good approach, but still haven’t fully figured it out.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot that keeps me up at night. Most of it is why some people seem to have bad luck, bad genes, and poverty when they likely did not choose to be in that position. I don’t have all the answers here, but certainly some questions and thoughts which I hope were helpful.

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2 thoughts on “What Keeps You Up at Night?

  1. I like Lindsey Stirling btw. She came through SF last month but I didn’t get to go see her perform. The things that keep me up the most at night are usually work stress related and frustration with myself for not getting as much done as I wanted. That makes me sound pretty selfish compared to your list!

    1. Sydney, Lindsey Stirling is awesome – 20+ years of mastery at the violin and she’s really created some incredible stuff.

      I think your list is very valid – we each have to work to survive here, so no shame in that :)

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