I leave for Seattle in less than twelve hours. And rather than spending my dwindling time in Ithaca wisely (and packing), I've instead settled down in my sofa with my trusty laptop (named Zaphod for those who are curious) resting on my lap before me.
I've now completed two full years of my PhD program, and I finally have something tangible to show for my efforts. Looking back, I'm a little surprised I was even admitted into any PhD programs. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I started two years ago, but I knew that I would learn a lot. And learn a lot I certainly have, in all areas of life no less. I'm uncertain if the Cornell admissions committee could've gleaned enough from my application to reliably judge that I would've progressed to this point (and I still have a long way to go). Grad school is not for everyone. But people who thrive while being immersed in cutting edge human intellectual endeavors would probably be well served by it.
In sadder news, my paternal grandfather passed away a couple months ago from lung cancer. We weren't very close (I grew up with my mom's family), but his passing saddens me nonetheless. It's moments like this one which cause me to note my own mortality. I'm hopeful we will soon progress to the point where human lifespans are not measured in decades but millenniums, but who knows if and when that will actually happen.
As much as I can discern, I wholeheartedly agree with Aubrey de Grey's assertion that defeating aging should be our number one focus (see previous link). What I mean by this is that I cannot find any flaw in his main argument that aging should be treated like any other disease. In fact, I've started reading up a little on molecular biology.
But at the same time, I also think it's important to live one's life to satisfy one's priorities. The important thing to keep in mind is that the world we live in is deeply interconnected. And as long as we are making progress towards generating utility for society, we are also making progress towards defeating aging (and many other important problems).
For example, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and thus a very wealthy individual, recently donated 3.5 million dollars to Aubrey de Grey's cause. Dr. David E. Shaw (of D. E. Shaw fame) uses his considerable influence on furthering computational biology research. I hope that my own research might someday also prove useful in advancing this cause as well.
And now that you've been convinced to spend the rest of your life toiling away for the greater good of humanity, remember to appreciate the people around you as well. Because most of them are actually amazing in some way, and you never know when you might see them again.