The Sloths Are Never Wrong

In terms of what planet Earth has to offer, the human race isn’t exactly the star attraction. We aren’t the biggest (blue whales), the fastest (cheetahs), or even the laziest (sloths. But Americans are a close second.) And to top it all off, we are literally killing and destroying our planet.

So, what are humans good at? What have we evolved from monkeys and small amoeba to do? What does evolution have in store for us? Like, if Darwin wanted to win an award for best example of evolution, how would he market us? What would his tri-fold poster look like at the science fair?

Well, let’s see. We’re definitely good at war. We like to fight and dominate and oh yeah, kill. (No wonder “alien” races from outer space stay away!) But so do monkeys. So, that’s not exclusive to us. And we can speak. We have hundreds of thousands of dialects and even more slang words. But any dog can recognize a command in our native tongue, even if it’s just because our voices get a wee bit higher when we speak to them. Okay, then. Okay… a talent, a talent, a talent…well, we invented naps, didn’t we? Nope, it was the sloths again. Rats! (Yup, they even helped us to understand modern medicine with that whole plague fiasco. We really have nothing.)

But the thing is, we do. Humans are great at…adapting. And sure, we can’t change colors, shed our skin, or change our sex automatically (we’re still having a lot of trouble with that one, even though approximately half the animal population can do it, and 100% of the animal population is fine with the fact that the other half are able to do it), but we are good at keeping on.

We can get beat down and get right back up. We can have a complete meltdown that we don’t talk about ever again, but somehow, we are still whole at the end of the day. Somehow, we’re the only animal that experiences intense emotional trauma that we inflict on ourselves. And truly, we’ve made it through some of the worst phyiscal tragedies known to this planet. (Granted, we also brought those on ourselves, but you get it.)

So, don’t worry about the next time that you mess up or you didn’t get what you wanted. Because you are absolutely going to be fine. Actually, you were built for it. You evolved to overcome it all. And if that knowledge still doesn’t work for you? Take a nap. The sloths are never wrong.

To Kill a Language

I think about words a lot. I think about what I am going to say, and I think about what I said. I think about how words taste, how they feel when they roll around in your mouth. How they choke you when they are left unsaid. How they are so slippery sometimes that they slide right out. That’s why I try my best to choose the right ones when I need them, to use precise language when I am able to.

So, why doesn’t anyone else? I mean, I get it. We can all get a bit lazy with our speech, and sometimes, we can only reach the words that are in our grasp. So, we tend to repeat things. We tend to say things that don’t make any sense. We can even say things we don’t mean.

But what happens when we use a word so much that we warp its true meaning? What happens when we say a word so many times that it doesn’t seem to be a real word anymore? These things have consequences, you know.

And that’s where the monstrosity “literally” comes in. It is a cross between good intentions and mixed signals. Weirdly, it’s used to emphasize what we are saying by completely invalidating it. It means in “actuality” but we use it figuratively. So, we get ridiculousness like this:

“I literally died when I heard that.”

“She literally killed me.”

“I literally could not stop laughing.”

“I am literally starving.”

“You are literally the dumbest person on Earth.”

The problem is, if we don’t stop using “literally” in contexts that it should not be used, its meaning will change. Because that’s all our language is: transforming meanings and uses. Someone simply said “dinosaur” or “bulbous” enough times that it became attached to a specific image. Our language is simply made up of symbols that represent other symbols. And it is changing all of the time. That’s why we get 50/50 slang words like “bad,” which can also mean good.

However, the only way that we can preserve the integrity of our language is through saying what we mean. Inevitably, that means we need to mean what we say. And don’t get me wrong: I am in favor of free-styling. Go ahead, use LOL.

But don’t give a new meaning to a word that has never needed an upgrade in the first place. “Literally” should be reserved for clarifying puns, and not as an honorary curse word to give your sentence emphasis. Words are more than what meets the eye or rolls off the tongue, and we need to keep it that way.

It’s Not the Years in Your Life

Humans. We’re extending our lives a little more everyday. Doctors actually printed out a 3D heart so that they could save the life of a baby recently. We’re getting closer to immortality all the time. Maybe one day we can defrost Disney, become bionic, and clone our clones.

But being immortal isn’t going to help us live our lives now. In fact, it doesn’t matter how old you are, 9 or 90, you aren’t going to survive for 10 more years or even 100 if you don’t understand this basic principle: there is always time to live up to your potential.

You need to believe that you can start anew at any time. No matter how many times you have failed or how many times you have started over before. You have to know that you can learn or try anything new, at any age. That, just like Madonna, you can reinvent yourself.

I mean, I hear all of the time that children can learn languages quickly. A child’s brain is already mapping new ideas and connections all of the time, so what’s one more English word, one more Spanish phrase?

But what everyone assumes from this fact is that there is a small window that you have to jump through in terms of knowledge. If you don’t do something when you’re young, you will never learn to do it at all. And if you miss the opportunity, well, you miss out. Of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Science does not say that we ever stop learning at a fixed point in our lives. We can discover a new language, a new skill, or a new lifestyle at any time, and we absolutely should.

Yes, it may not feel like you have a lot of time on this Earth. And it isn’t fair that we are limited to a lifetime that is synonymous with the blink of an eye on any other planet. But I assure you, you will have plenty of time to write the next award-winning screenplay, the next 700-page tome, the next best chapter of your life. That is, if you start right now and never stop.

I don’t know when you’ll die. It could be tomorrow. And it could be 500,000 tomorrows from now. But I can assure you, if you begin by squeezing every drop out of life, you will never feel as though your time is running out. Just the opposite.