Usually enjoy the "Google Doodles" quite a bit. Foucault's Google Doodle yesterday was no exception and reminded me of my family's day-trip to Chicago's MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) when I was in junior high.
I really enjoyed that day, and can safely say I soaked up more knowledge in that one trip than in any 2-week period at any school I've ever attended. In fact, when I'm teaching, I still mention things learned from that trip... some 25+ years later.
When I first saw the Foucault Doodle, of course I had to play around with the controls, was completely side-tracked for several minutes, then wanted to Google search Léon Foucault, clicked right over to his Wikipedia page, read the entire thing, opening several tabs in my browser to look at all of the cool things he'd been involved in discovering. Eventually I "woke up," noticing I'd spent a good hour reading, completely forgotten why I went to Google in the first place, and had missed my short window-of-opportunity for a 20 minute power nap.
Normally, no power nap isn't a problem, but this year I teach in the mornings, my wife comes to school, hands off our 2 year old, I play with her, &/or run errands for an hour, feed her, put her down for a nap, then (if time permits) grab a 20 minute power nap, and work from home the rest of the day. My brief foray into the life and accomplishments of Léon Foucault led me to the realization that I am (and probably most Americans today are) quite "busy," but don't really accomplish quite as much as people did a hundred years ago. Foucault lived a grand total of 48 years, 4 months, & 23 days (six years and a few days longer than my lifespan to date), and he discovered many interesting and amazing things.
I, on the other hand, could not think of one single thing I've discovered or created. Sure, I do have an incredible wife (that not only puts up with me, but loves me too), five great kids (that are better looking, have more skills, and are in better shape than I was at their age), have taught kids for years (one-on-one, in "regular" school settings, & in Sunday School), and can carry a tune (with my voice and several different instruments), but that's about it. Not overly impressive.
Was thinking I'd like to "up my game" in the "life accomplishments" department so I could have an impressive headstone like Foucault, until I took a closer look and realized: there was no mention of his family. Then recalled I hadn't seen any mention of Foucault's family members in any of the on-line biographies I'd read either. I scanned them more thoroughly, but still found no mention of a wife or any children. After that additional reading, I realized he died rather young with progressive (and incurable) paralysis (due to all the chemicals with which he'd worked) and he died alone.
That decided it for me: my simple life, with not a single "discovery" or "world-renowned accomplishment" has been much more fulfilling than poor Mr. Foucault's. Sure, there are still things on my bucket list, and I need to put more time in on my wife's little projects around the house, but if a drunk driver puts me underground some morning on my way to or from school, in my view, I'll have had a greater legacy than Foucault... just in our five children... even if every one of them lives their own "inconsequential" and "simple" lifestyle... just like mine.
I still appreciate his discoveries, think it would be neat to make some scientific discoveries of my own, or become a world-renowned singer, or musician, or a multi-millionaire in business, but if none of that happens, I'm fine with that too. I'll have the love of several little people and my wife to keep me happy for years to come.
Off to school now. Think after school today I'll run my errands, play with the baby awhile, and see what can be done around the house for my wife. =)
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