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Would You Rather Be a Meteor or a Planet?

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. — Jack London

This quote is a little wordy to be pithy, but it popped up on my Facebook feed today (via You Gotta Believe) and hit me in just the right spot. Which is not to say it hit and felt good. Actually, it kinda hurt.

I’m no Jack London, but this is exactly how I feel. I want to live a brilliant blaze. Complacency terrifies me. I want my life to be a thrill ride of some kind. I hate real roller coasters but love the roller coaster of life. Even when things are horrible, at least it feels like living to me. When everything settles into routine, I am restless and unhappy. I feel deadened, bored, suffocated.

In the abstract, this doesn’t sound terrible, does it? I mean, don’t we all want to live life to the fullest? Carpe diem, mi vida loca and all that?

The problem is, this philosophy of life requires churn. It means that the minute things get comfortable, you want them to be uncomfortable. Except that comfort is uncomfortable, so what do you do then?

I should have outgrown this already. I’m old, and should settle down into my cozy, curmudgeonly dotage. But I chafe in comfort. Rage against the machine. Fidget for whatever comes next. This can be hard on people around me, who don’t understand why I can’t just sit still and be.

I can’t.

Is the superb meteor really better than the permanent planet? Meteors can be awfully destructive, and a lot of planets (well, at least one that we know of) support life.

Do we even have a choice in such things? Or are planets forever planets and meteors forever meteors?

When a meteor comes to rest, isn’t it just a rock?

Comet circling earth image is available from Shutterstock.

Would You Rather Be a Meteor or a Planet?

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APA Reference
Dembling, S. (2012). Would You Rather Be a Meteor or a Planet?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 12 Oct 2012
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