As an engineer, you expect things to all work perfectly scientifically. You’re taught that if you are careful about sticking to the rules, making sure that your calculations are correct, you will create something robust like a bridge or a drive-shaft. This object will be able to bear the required loads and shouldn’t break under any normal circumstances…

 Engineers are also taught that you cant design anything to last forever. Everything has a life-span and everything will eventually break sooner or later. If you try to make a drive-shaft to last for ever, it would be either ridiculously big, ridiculously heavy, or both!   We design things to break after a certain number of uses. Whether its a trillion times (rotations of a shaft), or just once (the opening of a coke-can). We can predict when and how the object will fail, and for the most part we do this pretty accurately based on the design, the load and the quality of the material. Everything is neat, everything is calculated and everything is predictable. There is a certain sense of power attached to this, a smugness and a pride…

Unfortunately, life isn’t like this. You can never tell when its going to sneak up on you, and when it does, its always a shock. The human body is so fragile in comparison to mechanical things, and so unpredictable in its robustness. You can invest so much time and energy into making it stronger, but you can never say when it will be snatched away. I can breathe life into a robot or a machine, I can bring it back from the dead or make it brand new, but I wish I knew how to do that for a human being.

We are truly made or different stuff, and the same rules just simply do not apply to life. No matter how hard we try, we can’t quantify life or cling onto it when its time for it to leave this world. Its a humbling experience that makes me realise how small and powerless each of us really are to control the things that matter the most on this planet and are far more valuable than any chunk of metal can ever be (even if it does talk).

Similarly to the engineering world though, there is one thing we can all be sure of…Nothing lasts forever, so do your best to enjoy every moment with the people you love. And let them know it.

To my dear, sweet and amazing friends, DG and CBS who tragically and unexpectedly passed on this year: I love you, I miss you and I will always treasure the precious memories we’ve shared.