“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
“You are living as if destined to live for ever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply — though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire… How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end! How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived!”
Martin Luther King Jr. echoed this sentiment when he said: “This ‘Wait!’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’”
The only time is now. Don’t waste it.
“We control the world basically because we are the only animals that can cooperate flexibly in very large numbers. And if you examine any large-scale human cooperation, you will always find that it is based on some fiction like the nation, like money, like human rights. These are all things that do not exist objectively, but they exist only in the stories that we tell and that we spread around. This is something very unique to us, perhaps the most unique feature of our species.
You can never, for example, convince a chimpanzee to do something for you by promising that, “Look, after you die, you will go to chimpanzee heaven and there you will receive lots and lots of bananas for your good deeds here on earth, so now do what I tell you to do.”
But humans do believe such stories and this is the basic reason why we control the world whereas chimpanzees are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.”
Storytelling, language, memes, all released humans from the prison of biology.
“My method is different. I do not rush into actual work. When I get a new idea, I start at once building it up in my imagination, and make improvements and operate the device in my mind. When I have gone so far as to embody everything in my invention, every possible improvement I can think of, and when I see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form the final product of my brain.”
My Inventions by Nikola Tesla
“Make it a practice to indulge in fantasy about science. Make it more than just an occasional exercise. Daydream a lot. Make talking to yourself silently a relaxing pastime. Give lectures to yourself about important topics you need to understand. Talk with others of like mind. By their dreams you shall know them…The ideal scientist thinks like a poet and only later works as a bookkeeper. Keep in mind that innovators in both literature and science are basically dreamers and storytellers.
Letters to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson; 2013
“Many of us, no doubt, have reached the conclusion that people who do not look at us while either listening or talking are trying to hide something. This is in general agreement with the opinion of law-enforcement offcials who have attended our seminars. Michael Argyle in his book, The Psychology of Interpersonal Behavior , observes that people look at each other between 30 and 60 percent of the time. He also notes that when two individuals while talking look at each other more than 60 percent of the time, they probably are more interested in the other person than in what he is saying. Two extremes might be lovers looking at each other adoringly and two hostile individuals getting ready to fight. Argyle also believes that abstract thinkers tend to have more eye contact than those who think in concrete terms, because abstract thinkers have a greater ability to integrate incoming data and are less likely to be distracted by eye contact.”
How to Read a Person Like a Book by Gerard I. Nierenberg and Henry H. Calero
“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here.”
“The first of the great Roman roads, the Via Salaria, Salt Road, was built to bring this salt not only to Rome but across the interior of the peninsula. This worked well in the Roman part of the Italian peninsula. But as Rome expanded, transporting salt longer distances by road became too costly. Not only did Rome want salt to be affordable for the people, but, more importantly as the Romans became ambitious empire builders, they needed it to be available for the army. The Roman army required salt for its soldiers and for its horses and livestock. At times soldiers were even paid in salt, which was the origin of the word salary and the expression “worth his salt” or “earning his salt.” In fact, the Latin word sal became the French word solde, meaning pay, which is the origin of the word, soldier.”
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
“A leaf does not resist the breeze. A goose does not resist the urge to fly down south. Is this not happiness? Is this not freedom? To access this incredible state, we need only one thing: Trust. Trust that, when you are not holding yourself together so tightly, you will not fall apart. Trust that it is more important to fulfill your authentic desires than listen to your fears. Trust that your intuition is leading you somewhere. Trust that the flow of life contains you, is bigger than you, and will take care of you—if you let it.”
— Vironika Tugaleva, The Love Mindset: An Unconventional Guide to Healing and Happiness
“Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea,” observed novelist Iris Murdoch.
If you think you’re going to write a masterpiece, it’s already too late. It never works out that way. What you imagine in your head rarely translates to the same excitement on paper.
The best bet is to start writing and see where it goes. Writing, like photography and music, is all in the edit. It’s knowing what to keep, what to throw away, and what’s worth tweaking. As Miles Davis declared: “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.”
When it comes to writing, you’ll never know where you’re going until you get there. So you might as well just dive into it. Perhaps writer Louis L’Amour put it best: “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Photographer Eiji Ohashi spent nine years capturing images of Japan’s vending machines on his late-night commutes home from work.
“At the time, I was living in a town in the north of Japan that would get hit by terrible blizzards during the winter months. I’d drive my car in (these) conditions and use the light of the vending machines to guide me.”
Well-maintained even in harsh winter conditions, the machines stand out in Japan’s remote towns like ‘roadside lights’, the eponymous title of Ohashi’s photography book.
For a country that produces “300-plus flavors of KitKat,” the vending machines not only look the same, they all sell the same items. Said Ohashi: “I wanted to capture the standardized form of the vending machines. I thought you could see the differences between the regions through the scenery around them.”
All photos via Eiji Ohashi
People enjoy low brain activities because it gives them the option to unthink. Whether it’s movies or endless Instagram scrolling, the images are there telling us what to think.
Reading or listening to music, on the other hand, may take your mind places. As Ray Bradbury once put it, books create a ‘theater inside your head.’
When you pursue the answers out of passiveness, the mind takes a seat. Idleness is ok in moderation.
No one’s waiting for you to get off the couch and exercise your imagination. The door to exceptional wonder is open at all times.
They once said that you could increase your wealth just by reading The Economist. What they didn’t say was that you still needed to apply what you learned to real life.
Gobbling facts increase your knowledge and at the same time, deaden your ability to think for yourself.
You can make a living off of other people’s opinions, but you’re more likely to be remembered if you can originate something on your own.
Knowledge multiplies in power when it’s chewed over multiple times, actuated, and then retested.
There is a photograph coming at you every few seconds, and hype is the lingua franca. It has become hard to stand still, wrapped in the glory of a single image, as the original viewers of old paintings used to do. The flood of images has increased our access to wonders and at the same time lessened our sense of wonder. We live in inescapable surfeit.
— Teju Cole, from ‘Finders Keepers’ in Known and Strange Things
A book can change your life. A film can change your perception, but only momentarily.
When it comes to reading versus watching a screen, it’s all about mind control. You can either make your own mental movie or acquiesce to the images fed on a wall. Said Ray Bradbury in an interview with Bradbury scholar Sam Weller:
It’s different because when you read it, you’re creating it in your own theater inside your head. But a film is total realism. You can’t change it, it’s right there, there’s nothing you can do about it. You can change a book in your mind. Every book is like Japanese flowers that go into your head and they sink down through the water inside your head, and then open out. The difference between books and film is books are unreality. They open up inside the head. They become yours. They’re more personal. Films are immediate and insistent. They’re like a bully. They bully you with their brilliance and you can’t turn away from them. Later you may, in remembrance, change them, but you can’t have the immediate thing that the book does where it fantasizes in the head. After all, it’s only print, it doesn’t mean anything. You have to learn at a certain age how to read those symbols and turn them into paper flowers that open in the mind. A film makes you think you know everything — you don’t. You can’t escape film.