The debt I owe

On the surface, this world is practically inhabitable for someone like me. I feel too much, I have no interest in competition or survival. Evolutionary biology should have somewhat cancelled me out somewhere, but it didn’t. I shouldn’t have survived, but I did, repeatedly, despite being chronically suicidal my entire life, almost purely on the goodwill of some people (and books — which relies on the courage of others) in my life. I am still alive and can only be the person I am today, because these people elevated me even though they had no reason to. This colours my entire worldview.

I can only be independent now because of I was allowed to be dependent for a huge part of my life. I should have been left behind long ago, but this tiny minority of people looked beyond the fragile, helpless mess I was and stayed with me. I wish to work towards a world that doesn’t leave people behind, not because of the ideology, but because I have to recognize that I was an actual beneficiary. We should learn the beauty of this connected interdependency from nature:

Water and sugar have already been shown to move from older trees into the mycelial network (they are feeding the fungi, after all), so including young trees in the network may help establish them by providing them with food while they are still trying to stand on their own two feet;
 — Dying Trees Can Send Food to Neighbors of Different Species

I am also reminded of Michael Lewis’s commencement speech :

The “Moneyball” story has practical implications. If you use better data, you can find better values; there are always market inefficiencies to exploit, and so on. But it has a broader and less practical message: don’t be deceived by life’s outcomes. Life’s outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.

I will always owe a debt to the unlucky, to the ones I wasn’t capable of elevating, to those I have left behind. I can only strive to be a better human being, to be there for the ones in my future.

To pass on the baton.

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