Adolescence, Life-Saving Drones, Cool Reads, and Grief

Maybe you aren't so special after all

Hello friends and welcome back to Life Reimagined, a free weekly elixir designed to make you feel good and live better.

📚 I. Books I’ve Enjoyed

I’m reading at a good clip this year. I’ve mostly gobbled up memoirs that take me into the unfamiliar and interesting worlds of the authors who wrote them. Below are five of my favorite books from the year so far.

📦 I. Cool Company Creating the Future

I recently toured Zipline, a company creating autonomous drones that deliver goods and services to people.

The most interesting part of the experience was learning that Zipline’s drones have primarily been used in Africa to deliver blood and other life-saving medical interventions to hospitals. In some countries, they have helped reduce the number of deaths from postpartum hemorrhaging by 50%!

Outside of learning about Zipline’s progress and impact, it was awesome to be on the ground floor of a hardware company making real things. I left the facility feeling like I should leave the digital world and start working on something with more direct impact.

If you’re curious about the company, the popular Youtuber Mark Rober created a great video about what Zipline is doing and how it works.

🌊 III. A Good Description of Grief

A few weeks ago, I shared The Wave I’ll Never Forget, an essay about a paranormal experience I had while grieving the loss of my mom.

A reader reached out afterward and recommended this Reddit post from an older man who has lost “friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks.”

It’s one of the better descriptions of grief that I’ve seen. I particularly enjoy his metaphor for the early stages of loss:

“As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.”

Since I write about losing my mom from time to time, many people have reached out to me over the years to ask for advice after losing their mom.

Providing “advice” on such matters feels impossible, but I still try. One universal theme in the responses is that a big loss can feel like a fight with a force far more powerful than you.

Fighting the force or trying to “solve the problem” is futile. You will only wear yourself down. Instead, you must surrender and offer yourself as much self-compassion as you can.

I think this Reddit user captures what I’ve been trying to say for years.

🎙️ IV. Podcast Worth Listening To

I enjoyed Lex Fridman’s interview with Annie Jacobsen, a journalist who writes about war, weapons, security, and secrets. Lex and Annie dive deep into what it would look like if the world entered a nuclear war. They get into the details of the nuclear capabilities of different countries, the unbelievable power of these weapons, and what would happen if they were deployed.

What they discuss is both informative and horrifying. In listening, I realized that my idea of nuclear war has always been opaque. I knew it was a primary threat to human civilization, but my thinking stopped there. This interview turned that opaque thinking into something more concrete.

On the whole, I left the interview with a deepened sense of the fragility of life and the importance of our efforts to preserve and improve the world that we have.

🧠 V. Something I’m Thinking About

In This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolff discusses the blissfully ignorant period of adolescence and your early 20s when you still believe the world is an oyster designed for you and your specialness.

For most of us, this period ends. As we mature, we realize that we are not special, or at least that we are not uniquely special. That realization can feel like a punch to the gut, but ultimately allows us to live out our small piece of the cosmic puzzle without all of the angsty egoism of youth.

“When we are green, still half-created, we believe that our dreams are rights, that the world is disposed to act in our best interests, and that falling and dying are for quitters. We live on the innocent and monstrous assurance that we alone, of all the people ever born, have a special arrangement whereby we will be allowed to stay green forever”

Tobias Wolff in This Boy’s Life

That's all for now. See you next Sunday.

— Cal

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