Neil deGrasse Tyson Beautifully Answered a Six-Year-Old’s Question About the Meaning of Life
TL; Dr: the meaning of life is Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Oh, my mistake. Jackson is six and three quarters.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is a TMS favorite not just because he’s a certifiable bad-ass making science a part of people’s daily lives, but he also seems like a genuinely caring guy who would be helpful to have around during our next existential crisis. Case in point: During an event last night at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, Tyson answered a young boy’s question about the meaning of life sweetly, profoundly, and without condescension.
If you can’t watch the video above, here’s a transcript of the first half of their interaction (via):
So — what is the meaning of life? I think people ask that question on the assumption that ‘meaning’ is something you can look for and go, ‘Here it is, I found it. Here’s the meaning. I’ve been looking for.’ That scenario, however, doesn’t consider the possibility that ‘meaning’ is something you create. You manufacture it for yourself and for others.
So when I think of ‘meaning’ in life, I ask, ‘Did I learn something today that I didn’t know yesterday, bringing me a little closer to knowing all that can be known in the universe?’ If I live a day and I don’t know a little more than I did the day before, I think I wasted that day. So the people who, at the end of the school year, say ‘The summer! I don’t have to think anymore!’ — I just don’t know. To think brings you closer to nature. To learn how things work gives you power to influence events. Gives you power to help people who may need it — to help yourself and your trajectory.
So when I think of the meaning of life, that’s not an eternal and unanswerable question — to me, that’s in arm’s reach of me everyday. So to you, at age six-and-three-quarters, may I suggest that you explore nature as much as you possibly can. And occasionally that means getting your clothes dirty because you might want to jump into puddles and your parents don’t want you to do that. You tell them that I gave you permission.
Wow. Could “Tyson having meaningful conversations with kids” be a recurring segment on the Star Talk show? I think we could all use a little more of this in our lives.
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