How to make the most important discovery of your life

April 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Like most people, I grew up associating the term “science” with a self-fulfilling notion of awe and discovery: in grade school, I was taught that Louis Pasteur disproved spontaneous generation. In high school, chemistry videos showed me how Marie Curie discovered radium. And that falling apple – didn’t Sir Isaac Newton prove the law of gravity?

So when I first started studying Science in University, I was surprised to learn that much of what I had romanticized about Science was, in fact, quite wrong. Scientists don’t like the word “prove”. They also almost never use the word “discover”.

What? Where were all the Marie Curies and the Isaac Newtons, then? If no one was proving, disproving, or discovering anything, what was Science all about?

A few days ago, I told one of my friends about how discovering Amy Krouse Rosenthal just about changed my life. To explain what I meant (not in words because Amy cannot be explained in words), I sent him to one of the videos she made on YouTube. He came back, after having watched the video, and said something like, “Wow, Amy Krouse Rosenthal does look amazing…”, immediately followed by: “How did she change your life?”

For me, the video itself was self-explanatory in describing the essence of how Amy K.R. changed my life. The embodiment of serendipity. Loveliness. And magic.

I stared at the screen for a while, not knowing how I should reply to his email. This whole time, I had refrained from trying to describe Amy and I couldn’t – wouldn’t – resort to words now. At the same time, I realized: my life-changing moment isn’t a discovery to him.

In Science, we rarely call things “discoveries” because it’s such a high claim. In order for something to deserve that kind of title, it has live up to something “big”. It has to be just as important to you as it is to me. Objective. Testable and provable.

But it’s not like that with Life.
I happen to think that Life is really just one big experiment. And if you think so too, then why not make discoveries – all the time? What are you searching for? What is your hypothesis? What discoveries have you made today?

I truly believe that the most important discovery of our lives is the one that we make today. It is the one that you make, for yourself, every single day: a new twist to an old recipe, a sighting of a bird you’d never seen before, learning something new about someone you thought you had down-pat… It’s discovering that avocados can be substituted for butter in granola (you knew that one was coming!). It’s realizing that you were wrong, that you shouldn’t have said that, and that after all is said and done, your bed is still the best place to put your head down for the night. And it’s true – at the end of the day, there are no golden bells, no accolades, no parades or Nobel prizes. But then there’s you. And there’s Growth.

For example, ladies and gentlemen, today, I made a Most Important Discovery.

I discovered that pistachios…

…look an awful lot like mini-avocados:

It’s arguable, but I feel just as important as Newton.


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