To Be Human

Here are some fun facts about animals:

A cheetah can go from 0 to 60 in three seconds.

Electric eels can deliver up to 600 volts. That’s enough to kill an adult horse. 

Peregrine falcons can reach up to 200 MPH in a dive for prey.

Ostriches can kill a lion with a single kick. 

Elephants can smell water from miles away.

Honey badgers are well, honey badgers. But they can also crack a tortoise shell with their teeth.

Most animals are nothing short of amazing. Evolution has sharpened its knives and has carved most of them into efficient machines with powers to outlast their environment and their predators. They are stream-lined and made with progress in mind.

And humans?

Well…

We have the power to order high-priced coffee and remember embarrassing things that happened to us years ago.

So, okay. Maybe we are the species that evolution forgot. And maybe the cool stuff is coming in the next couple of centuries??? (Honestly, I could use a couple more arms. Or laser beams that come out of my eyes. Whichever comes first.)

But we have to remember that we already have our distinguishing factor. It’s not top speed, or powerful senses, or strong bodies. It’s our faults. It’s our flaws. It’s our mistakes.

I mean, think about it. If any other animal in the wild makes a mistake, slips up once, they could be a meal for another animal. But humans make mistakes all the time. In fact, we are defined by the flaws in our character and our behavior. We mess up, and we apologize, and we learn. It’s a constant cycle that we rely on to live, really. If we didn’t make mistakes and learn from them, we could never evolve. In fact, it is the only way that we can.

For example, our primal ancestors had to learn the hard way that sometimes a cave could act as a shelter for you, and sometimes it could act as a shelter for another predator. It probably didn’t take us long to realize that we weren’t always on top of the food chain, and it certainly took a couple of human lives to realize that some animals should be feared. But once we did, we learned how to avoid them or kill them for our own food. We made mistakes, and we learned without having to wait until evolution equipped us with something to protect ourselves. We made tools and weapons, and we fought back.

So, the next time you get frustrated with yourself for doing something incorrectly, remember that you are actually fulfilling your role as a human. Your flaws are only an indication of your species, as much as tigers have stripes and honey badgers have bad atttitudes.

What the Frick Does That Mean, Coco Chanel?

Do you ever ponder how a quote becomes a quote? Do people just quote a quote so often it becomes a quote? Or does it have to reach a certain number on the relatability factor before it can be deserving of that little dash and the speaker’s name after it?

To decide, let’s consider this one, by Dr. Seuss:

“Fun is good.”

Huh. The simplicity is definitely attractive in this quote, but I could probably string these three words together myself. In essence, I could have said this quote. In fact, I probably did say it. So, how is it fair that it gets credited to one person?

Let’s try another, by Confucius:

To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.

Thanks for that wisdom, Confucius. Just one question: how am I supposed to know what I don’t know if I don’t know it? Didn’t really think that one through, did ya? (Tongue firmly in cheek, mind you, but you have to admit, he could have taken a few more years to think about this one. Just so there’s no Confucius confusion.)

And finally, we have the fashion icon, Coco Chanel:

Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.

Like, okay. I get it. Don’t try to change something that you can’t change. But how do you know it’s a “wall” not a “door”? What if it just needs a doorknob? Maybe your beating translates to knocking and someone answers it? And how do you know when to stop?

Now, you would probably argue that these people had other quotes that hit home. That these may not be shining examples of their intellect, but these are still incredibly wise people we’re talking about. (Or quoting about.)

And yes, you would be right. Which proves two things about life: one, that even the best and most interesting people don’t always make sense. Yes, truly successful people can sometimes produce non-masterpieces. Yes, they can create badly. And actually, this is what makes them great. Because they are willing to say things that don’t really work in the hopes that they will strike upon something that does.

Which brings me to my second point. These quotes may not appeal to me. They may not ring true for my life.  But they could be important to someone else. Maybe someone needs to be reminded that “Fun is good” on a daily basis. Maybe they need to accept that they don’t know everything. Maybe they need to remember that they can stop when it gets too hard. This is what is so rich and inviting about our lives: we’re on different paths, and yet there is still a universality to our experiences.

So, maybe Coco Chanel knew what she was talking about. And then again, maybe she didn’t. The best part is that you or I don’t have to decide. Just don’t quote me on that.

Free Fun

Are you as broke as a child without an allowance? Would you be excited if a moth came out of your wallet as it does in cartoon shows because then, at least, you would have something in your wallet? Is the sound of you rubbing two coins together just the sound of you rubbing one finger against a coin?

Well, me too. I guess we have something in common.

Also, if the above description details your situation perfectly,  welcome to your 20’s; the most ironic age of your life. A time where it should be extremely fun to go out to bars or other age restricted entertainment (because you finally can) with your friends, but also a time when you find you can’t because well, bars cost money. And what with college loans, rent and other expenditures, you’re a bit in the red.

So, if you’re anything like me, and you are a bit bored of watching movies on your couch on a Friday night, here’s a quick reminder that you can fly to far away lands, fight robot overlords and feast on faerie food that is the size of thimbles.

Books are free, people. There is this archaic structure that the state employs to keep you well-stocked with adventure. It’s called the library.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a good trip to the bookstore to buy a book that I will keep on my shelf or Kindle, forever. And really, the way that I forget to return my borrowed books to that establishment is kind of like I’m buying them already. (I once had to pay my local library $4.50 at a rate of 10 cents a day. You do the math.)

But think about it. We can barely rent anything without paying for it in the entertainment industry these days, especially now that all of the video stores have essentially folded. So, what other medium can you indulge in that will offer their wares for free, and won’t even make you pay for it if you fold the pages back or spill black coffee on it?

And finally, a book keeps giving. It captures someone’s vision originally. But then, when it gets into a reader’s hands, it becomes something completely different. It becomes a religious experience or fuel for the fire. Or, more recently, the subject of a blog post. And, all of this is free to you and me. If you have a library card. Which is free, as well, in most cases.

So what if you’re broke. Most of America is according to the economy. But what we are wealthy in is words and imagination. And so we are rich.

Also, this blog is and always will be free. So, if you do need some free fun on a Friday, I’ll be right there with you, even when I’m not.