April 26th, 2021
I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s View From The Cheap Seats last night, which is a collection of his essays, reviews, introductions and conclusions. I love Neil Gaiman, because I have eyes and a brain and a heart.
There are a lot of things in there that will, consciously or sub-, inspire my thinking and future conversations (I sincerely recommend the entire book), but there was something that stuck out yesterday that just made me glad to be human.
Neil recounts a sci-fi story he read when he was young. In it, there was a machine with two pods. In the first pod, you place anything you want. You push a button, and in the second pod appears an exact duplicate of the thing in the first pod. Soon, stores start using the machine to sell as many as you want of anything that can be replicated (using only check or credit to buy, as now cash can be duplicated), until nothing really has any value.
In this world, what would still be valuable?
(I’m putting this extra sentence here so you actually stop and think about it, because I want you to get to this conclusion before I tell you.)
The only thing of value in this world is anything that is one-of-a-kind.
People are smart. They would adapt. They would create shops that carried things that would have at least one small part or tiny difference from all the other things, even the things that appeared at first glance to be the same.
That world isn’t fictional. It’s our world.
The thing you do isn’t what makes you valuable. It’s the way you do that thing.
Whether you fix cars, wait tables, nurse people or animals back to health, drive a truck, write words, tell people what to do, help people with their mental or physical well-being, work in an office — nobody has ever done the thing you do like you do it, and nobody will ever do it like you after.
Even if it’s a thing that billions of people have already done. Nobody has your exact experiences, knowledge or personality, and nobody has applied the fabric of who you are to the thing you’re doing.
So you have to remember this: that is your value.
Your value is what you bring to this world, not what the world has you do. Write it down, repeat it to yourself when you wake up in the morning.
Don’t be the best thing. Be the best you who does that thing, because it will never happen again in the eternity of time.