Goodness Flowers
If you’re going to do something tonight that you’ll be sorry for tomorrow morning, sleep late.
Henry Youngman
We are cold to others only when we are dull in ourselves, and have neither thoughts nor feelings to impart to them. Give a man a topic in his head, a throb of pleasure in his heart, and he will be glad to share it with the first person he meets.
William Hazlitt “On The Pleasures of Hating” (1826)
I also find it odd how some people so often slip words like “merely” and “nothing but” into statements about our origins. Humans are apes. So too are we mammals. We are vertebrates. We are pulpy, throbbing colonies of tens of trillions of cells. We are all these things, but we are not “merely” these things. And we are, in addition to all these things, something unique, something unprecedented, something transcendent. We are truly something new under the sun, with uncharted and perhaps limitless potential. We are the first and only species whose fate has rested in its own hands, and NOT just in the hands of chemistry and instinct. On the great Darwinian stage we call Earth, I would argue there has not been an upheaval as big as us since the origin of life itself. When I think about what we are and what we may yet achieve, I can’t see any place for snide little “merelies.”

V.S. Ramachandran The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human. (New York: W.W. Norton 2011) pg. 4

Not Merely

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Steve, Speech at Stanford University, 2005

On Scientific Rigor

…in the Empire in question, the Cartographer’s Art reached such a degree of Detail and Precision that the map of a single Province was large enough, when unfolded, to reach end-to-end across an entire City; and the parchment upon which the map of the Empire was drawn could not fit within the borders of a single Province. Soon, even these Outsized Maps were deemed no longer sufficient, and the Schools of Cartography created a Great Map of the Empire that was the size of the Empire itself, matching it point for point.

Later Generations, who were less Devoted to the Study of Cartography, declared the Great Map irrelevant, and left it exposed to the Ravages of the Sun and Winter. In the Western desert, one still finds scattered Ruins of the Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars. No other relics of the Geographic Discipline can be found anywhere else in the Land.

Suárez Miranda, “Voyages of Prudent Men,” Fourth Book, chap. xlv (Lérida, 1658)
No matter how one may think himself accomplished, when he sets out to learn a new language, science, or the bicycle, he has entered a new realm as truly as if he were a child newly born into the world.
Frances Willard, “How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle”
I KNEW A WOMAN

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one: The shapes a bright container can contain! Of her choice virtues only gods should speak, Or English poets who grew up on Greek (I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin, She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand; She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin: I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand; She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake, Coming behind her for her pretty sake (But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose: Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize; She played it quick, she played it light and loose; My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees; Her several parts could keep a pure repose, Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose (She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay: I’m martyr to a motion not my own; What’s freedom for? To know eternity. I swear she cast a shadow white as stone. But who would count eternity in days? These old bones live to learn her wanton ways: (I measure time by how a body sways.)
Theodore Roethke Words for the Wind (1958)

Gentleman, that is true. Just because they dress a certain way doesn’t mean they ARE a certain way. Don’t ever forget it. But ladies, you must understand that that is fucking CONFUSING. It just is.

Now, that would be like me, Dave Chappelle the comedian, walking around the streets in a cop uniform. Somebody might run up on me,

"Ahh! Thank God! Officer! HELP US! C’mon..they’re over here. Help us!"

I’d be like, “Oh! Just because I’m DRESSED this way, DOES NOT make me a police officer.”

All right, lady, fine. Fine. You are not a whore. But you ARE wearing a whore’s uniform, I’ll tell you that shit right now.

Dave Chappelle “Killin’ Them Softly” (2000)
Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources…Stating the thing broadly, the human individual lives far within his limits.
William James
I also find it odd how some people so often slip words like “merely” and “nothing but” into statements about our origins. Humans are apes. So too are we mammals. We are vertebrates. We are pulpy, throbbing colonies of tens of trillions of cells. We are all these things, but we are not “merely” these things. And we are, in addition to all these things, something unique, something unprecedented, something transcendent. We are truly something new under the sun, with uncharted and perhaps limitless potential. We are the first and only species whose fate has rested in its own hands, and NOT just in the hands of chemistry and instinct. On the great Darwinian stage we call Earth, I would argue there has not been an upheaval as big as us since the origin of life itself. When I think about what we are and what we may yet achieve, I can’t see any place for snide little “merelies.”

V.S. Ramachandran The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human. (New York: W.W. Norton 2011) pg. 4