John Muir on What Nature Can Teach Us About Life


John Muir on What Nature Can Teach Us About Life

Few names are as synonymous with nature as that of writer and naturalist John Muir. Muir was born in 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland, and his family immigrated to the United States in 1849, initially settling in Wisconsin. As a young man, Muir traveled the northern United States and Canada, then went to Cuba and Panama. His travels continued, but he made California his home in 1868. And it was in California that Muir found his greatest inspiration: the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite.

Muir spent much of his time in the Sierra Nevada, calling it “the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.” In the 1870s, he began studying the range extensively, and his writings attracted the public’s attention. His readers were inspired by the way he wrote about mountains, glaciers, and forests, and the way he captured nature in all its glory. He became a celebrated naturalist and environmental philosopher, and his words carried weight. In 1890, Muir was instrumental in convincing the U.S. Congress to create Yosemite National Park, which paved the way for the National Park System. When Muir published Our National Parks, he came to the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1903, the two men met in Yosemite, where their conversations helped shape Roosevelt’s groundbreaking conservation programs.

Today, John Muir is often called the father of the National Park System. He was a man of great passion and great learning, and his greatest teacher was nature. The wilderness, for Muir, was a place of both exceptional beauty and knowledge. As Muir famously said, “One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.” It’s a sentiment he would repeat in numerous works and speeches. Here are 14 quotes from Muir about the lessons nature has to teach us.

Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain-passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. Even the sick should try these so-called dangerous passes, because for every unfortunate they kill, they cure a thousand.
– “The Mountains of California,” 1894

Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine-trees. Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts; and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.
– “Speech at a meeting of the Sierra Club,” 1895

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
– “Our National Parks,” 1901

I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.
– “John Muir quoted by Samuel Hall Young in “Alaska Days with John Muir,” 1915

Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life, and that the grave has no victory, for it never fights. All is divine harmony.
– “A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf,” 1916

In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.
– “Steep Trails,” 1918

It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree.
– “John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir,” 1938

The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains — mountain dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s workshops.
– “John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir,” 1938

How little note is taken of the deeds of Nature! What paper publishes her reports? Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds, or the written music of water written in river-lines? Who reports and works and ways of the clouds, those wondrous creations coming into being every day like freshly upheaved mountains? And what record is kept of Nature’s colors — the clothes she wears — of her birds, her beasts — her live-stock?
– “John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir,” 1938

One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers’ plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul. All that is required is exposure, and purity of material.
– “John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir,” 1938

Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.
– A note written by John Muir in the margin of volume I of “Prose Works” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all travel the milky way together, trees and men.
– “A Wind Storm in the Forests of the Yuba,” “Scribner’s Monthly,” 1894

Surely all God’s people, however serious and savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes, — all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them.
– “The Story of My Boyhood and Youth,” 1913

Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.
– “John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir,” 1938


6 Famous Movie Lines By Screenwriters You’ve Never Heard OfApril 7, 2021

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All great movies begin on the page. Screenwriters labor for years over their words, striving to draft stories that will resonate through time. After directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, and designers have all worked their magic, it can be easy to forget how the project started. Only a handful of writers ever gain celebrity status for their work (think Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola), while many others go unnoticed by the public, despite writing some of the most enduring lines in film history. In honor of these unsung heroes of the entertainment industry, we’ve compiled a list of famous movie lines by writers you may never have heard of.

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.
 Paddy Chayefsky

Even if you’ve never seen the 1976 film Network, chances are you’ve heard the line. It was originally delivered by actor Peter Finch playing TV newsman Howard Beale. In the scene, the character, who is about to lose his job and coming a little unhinged at the prospect, engages in an on-air rant for the ages, insisting that people go to their windows and yell it with him: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” The spectacular speech was penned by writer Sidney Aaron “Paddy” Chayefsky. In his 30-year career, Chayefsky is credited with dozens of movies, plays, and TV series. He won three Academy Awards and was nominated for a fourth before his death in 1981.

E.T. phone home.
 Melissa Mathison

Melissa Mathison’s screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial earned her an Academy Award in 1983. Anyone who grew up in the ‘80s will have trouble hearing the words “E.T. phone home” without raising a finger to point at the sky. It’s the iconic  moment when Eliot (Henry Thomas) finally realizes what his new alien friend is trying to tell him. What most of us don’t know is that Mathison was also the writer behind a number of other memorable movies, including The Black StallionThe Indian in the CupboardKundun, and The BFG, which was released in 2016, shortly after Mathison’s death in 2015.

Wax on, wax off.
 Robert Mark Kamen

In addition to his 1984 film The Karate Kid, Robert Mark Kamen wrote The Fifth ElementA Walk in the CloudsGladiator, and many more. His list of credits is impressive, but it’s this line — “wax on, wax off” — that echoes through the ages. Thanks in large part to actor Pat Morita’s delivery, the words evoke the image of a wise master bestowing wisdom that the student has yet to understand. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kamen was quoted as being surprised that the famous words were even remembered. “The crane at the end…” he said. “I wanted that to be the big moment. If I thought anyone remembered anything they’d remember that.”

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
 Christopher McQuarrie

Iterations of this quote have appeared in literature for nearly 200 years, but it was screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie who gave it to the pitiful character of Verbal Kint in the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects. McQuarrie won the Oscar that year for Best Original Screenplay and went on to write The Way of the GunJack ReacherThe Mummy, four Mission Impossible screenplays and the 2021 reboot Top Gun: Maverick. In fact, if you’ve heard McQuarrie’s name anywhere lately, it’s probably been in association with Tom Cruise, as the two have worked on several recent projects together.

That’ll do, pig.
 George Miller

Born in Australia, screenwriter George Miller is best known for his film Mad Max: Fury Road, which is widely hailed as one of the greatest action films ever made. But his portfolio has a soft side too, as evidenced by the touching family film Babe. In the movie, James Cromwell plays Farmer Hoggett, a reserved man not prone to lavish words. When his pig wins the sheep herding competition, the farmer looks down and simply says, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.” Miller’s production company acquired the rights to the story in the 1980s, but it took a decade for the available technology to catch up with Miller’s aspirations for the film. When it was released in 1995, it won the Oscar for Best Visual Effect for its depictions of talking animals.

Wakanda forever.
 Ryan Coogler

This traditional greeting from the fictional land of Wakanda is always given with the right arm crossed over the left. The phrase, which has come to signify dignity and excellence, was co-written by Ryan Coogler, who was 32 years old when Black Panther was released in 2018. His previous screenplays include Fruitvale Station (nominated for 57 different awards) and Creed (which earned Sylvester Stallone an Academy Award nomination in 2016). However, it remains to be seen if screenwriting will be Coogler’s legacy. He is slated to direct the Black Panther sequel in 2022, and the recent film Judas and the Black Messiah, which Coogler produced, has been nominated for six Academy Awards.

6 Famous Movie Lines By Screenwriters You’ve Never Heard Of


6 Famous Movie Lines By Screenwriters You’ve Never Heard OfApril 7, 2021

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All great movies begin on the page. Screenwriters labor for years over their words, striving to draft stories that will resonate through time. After directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, and designers have all worked their magic, it can be easy to forget how the project started. Only a handful of writers ever gain celebrity status for their work (think Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola), while many others go unnoticed by the public, despite writing some of the most enduring lines in film history. In honor of these unsung heroes of the entertainment industry, we’ve compiled a list of famous movie lines by writers you may never have heard of.

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.
 Paddy Chayefsky

Even if you’ve never seen the 1976 film Network, chances are you’ve heard the line. It was originally delivered by actor Peter Finch playing TV newsman Howard Beale. In the scene, the character, who is about to lose his job and coming a little unhinged at the prospect, engages in an on-air rant for the ages, insisting that people go to their windows and yell it with him: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” The spectacular speech was penned by writer Sidney Aaron “Paddy” Chayefsky. In his 30-year career, Chayefsky is credited with dozens of movies, plays, and TV series. He won three Academy Awards and was nominated for a fourth before his death in 1981.

E.T. phone home.
 Melissa Mathison

Melissa Mathison’s screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial earned her an Academy Award in 1983. Anyone who grew up in the ‘80s will have trouble hearing the words “E.T. phone home” without raising a finger to point at the sky. It’s the iconic  moment when Eliot (Henry Thomas) finally realizes what his new alien friend is trying to tell him. What most of us don’t know is that Mathison was also the writer behind a number of other memorable movies, including The Black StallionThe Indian in the CupboardKundun, and The BFG, which was released in 2016, shortly after Mathison’s death in 2015.

Wax on, wax off.
 Robert Mark Kamen

In addition to his 1984 film The Karate Kid, Robert Mark Kamen wrote The Fifth ElementA Walk in the CloudsGladiator, and many more. His list of credits is impressive, but it’s this line — “wax on, wax off” — that echoes through the ages. Thanks in large part to actor Pat Morita’s delivery, the words evoke the image of a wise master bestowing wisdom that the student has yet to understand. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kamen was quoted as being surprised that the famous words were even remembered. “The crane at the end…” he said. “I wanted that to be the big moment. If I thought anyone remembered anything they’d remember that.”

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
 Christopher McQuarrie

Iterations of this quote have appeared in literature for nearly 200 years, but it was screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie who gave it to the pitiful character of Verbal Kint in the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects. McQuarrie won the Oscar that year for Best Original Screenplay and went on to write The Way of the GunJack ReacherThe Mummy, four Mission Impossible screenplays and the 2021 reboot Top Gun: Maverick. In fact, if you’ve heard McQuarrie’s name anywhere lately, it’s probably been in association with Tom Cruise, as the two have worked on several recent projects together.

That’ll do, pig.
 George Miller

Born in Australia, screenwriter George Miller is best known for his film Mad Max: Fury Road, which is widely hailed as one of the greatest action films ever made. But his portfolio has a soft side too, as evidenced by the touching family film Babe. In the movie, James Cromwell plays Farmer Hoggett, a reserved man not prone to lavish words. When his pig wins the sheep herding competition, the farmer looks down and simply says, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.” Miller’s production company acquired the rights to the story in the 1980s, but it took a decade for the available technology to catch up with Miller’s aspirations for the film. When it was released in 1995, it won the Oscar for Best Visual Effect for its depictions of talking animals.

Wakanda forever.
 Ryan Coogler

This traditional greeting from the fictional land of Wakanda is always given with the right arm crossed over the left. The phrase, which has come to signify dignity and excellence, was co-written by Ryan Coogler, who was 32 years old when Black Panther was released in 2018. His previous screenplays include Fruitvale Station (nominated for 57 different awards) and Creed (which earned Sylvester Stallone an Academy Award nomination in 2016). However, it remains to be seen if screenwriting will be Coogler’s legacy. He is slated to direct the Black Panther sequel in 2022, and the recent film Judas and the Black Messiah, which Coogler produced, has been nominated for six Academy Awards.

WaterWorld Day


Did you know…

… that today is Waterworld Day? Waterworld, starring Kevin Costner, opened in 1995. Costing almost $200 million to make, it was the most expensive movie ever made at that time because of crew injuries, tsunami warnings, a sinking set, disputes between Kevin Costner and Kevin Reynolds, the director and more. The film grossed a mere $88 million at the U.S. box office but did much better overseas, with $176 million at the foreign box office.

~~~

Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“You have to decide if you’re going to wilt like a daisy or if you’re just going to go forward and live the life that you’ve been granted.”

— Kevin Costner

International Tiger Day – 29 July


International Tiger Day – 29 July

Tiger day July 2021

This day is commemorated to raise awareness about tiger conservation.

Content marketing ideas:   

  • Listicle idea: X Things you can do if an animal escapes from the zoo
  • Infographic idea: X Fictional tigers you should know about
  • Video idea: How does a tiger’s stripes help with camouflage?
  • Podcast idea: Are forest reserves better than forests to ensure tigers’ survival?

A brand campaign that worked:

This ad by Australia Zoo shows the majesty of tigers and why they should be saved at any cost.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3FnM3u02-I

 

Don’t farm bugs


Insect farming bakes, boils and shreds animals by the trillion. It’s immoral, risky and won’t resolve the climate crisis

From wars to pandemics, people in crisis need to feel connected


Newletters I like : Ethical Alliance’s Newsletter


ethiXbase InsightsCase Study: Automating Third-Party Compliance Workflow For An Agribusiness Company
The complexities of managing a global agriculture operation are immense, especially when the company’s fundamental operations rely on trading with third parties, many of which are small farms in high-risk areas. Without a simple, straightforward system — disarray can easily ensue; and for this company, with limited compliance resources, the challenge was significant. Read moreBlog: Identifying and managing modern slavery in the construction industry 
Modern slavery within the construction sector is rife and accounts for 18% of global forced labour cases. Read more as we explore why the construction industry is more vulnerable to modern slavery risks and what can we do to prevent modern slavery from occurring.Video: What is ESG reporting and why is it important?
ESG encapsulate an organisation’s long-term non-financial health. Today, ESG covers three core pillars. Strong performance across all three pillars of ESG is indicative of business resilience. Watch the video now as we discuss how ESG can be measured and scored, and what we can do to improve ESG performance.Editor’s Selection

New Zealand: New Zealand buying more from Chinese region linked to forced labour
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Ireland: Irish food sustainability to fore with minister to address UN summit
Jul 27, 2021 03:45 pm
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue is to address a major UN food systems summit on Ireland’s role in being one of the global leaders in sustainable food production. At the summit,
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United Kingdom: Former Glencore trader pleads guilty in New York over Nigerian oil bribery scheme
Jul 27, 2021 03:30 pm
A former U.K.-based trader for Glencore Plc pleaded guilty on Monday over what U.S. prosecutors called his role in a scheme to bribe officials in Nigeria in exchange for favourable contracts from that country’s state-owned
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Brazil: Closing arguments in Odebrecht US$92M bribes case
Jul 27, 2021 03:20 pm
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United States: Commodity trader Freepoint faces U.S. bribery probe, sources say
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United States: FirstEnergy charged in Ohio bribery scheme, agrees to deferred prosecution settlement for $230 million
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Akron-based FirstEnergy will pay a $230 million fine for bribing key Ohio officials in a calculated quest to secure a $1 billion ratepayer-funded bailout for two nuclear plants and fend off future rate hikes. FirstEnergy’s fine – while far from
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The Marshall Goldsmith Newletter


     
 

My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams. I want to help you make your life a little better. Thank you for subscribing! Life is good.


   

Join me and my dear friend Martin Lindstrom when we go LIVE on LinkedIn this Thursday, July 29th at 12pm EST for the next episode of the M&M show! We will be joined by our two incredible guests, authors and business professors Erin Meyer and Gary Hamel to discuss how organizations should prepare for change in a post-covid world. Be sure to turn on post reminders to be notified when we go live: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/marshallgoldsmith_the-mm-show-the-post-covid-world-join-activity-6825836151279017984-OX_L.

For those of you who aren’t already familiar with our guests this week…

Erin Meyer is a professor at INSEAD, one of the leading international business schools. Her work focuses on how the world’s most successful managers navigate the complexities of cultural differences in a global environment. She works tirelessly helping companies to develop organizational cultures that breed both flexibility and innovation and offers cutting-edge strategies to improve the effectiveness of projects that span the globe. 

Gary Hamel is one of the world’s most influential and iconoclastic business thinkers. He has worked with leading companies across the globe and is a dynamic and sought-after management speaker. Most notably, Gary has been on the faculty of the London Business School for more than 30 years and is the director of the Management Lab. 

I hope to see all of you there, this is going to be a good one!

Life is good. Marshall.

Did you know…


Did you know…

… that today is National Love is Kind Day? This day is an opportunity to say no to abuse, violence, and ridicule, and yes to kindness. Kindness is the path to healthy and safer relationships, families, society, and the world. Because kindness rules!

~~~

Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

— Henry James

World Hepatitis Day – 28 July


World Hepatitis Day – 28 July

World Hepatitis Day Content Marketing Ideas

This day is celebrated to encourage governments to step up their response to the ever-present threat of hepatitis.

Content marketing ideas:   

  • Listicle idea: X Diseases that can develop in a person suffering from hepatitis
  • Infographic idea: Which countries are most affected by hepatitis and its variants?
  • Video idea: Here’s how your liver shutting down can affect other parts of the body
  • Podcast idea: How should you change your lifestyle if you have contracted hepatitis?

A brand campaign that worked:

This ad by UNICEF India features Amitabh Bachchan who talks about how he overcame hepatitis and encourages others to get vaccinated against this deadly disease.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw3ur-DmdLA

Quotes From 10 Entrepreneurs on the Importance of Failure


Quotes From 10 Entrepreneurs on the Importance of Failure

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When Albert Einstein said, “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right,” he was making a powerful statement about failure: It’s inevitable — but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Failure is one of the most powerful motivators we can encounter. It pushes us to do better (after we get over the initial sting of the loss, of course). It encourages us to keep trying. And in a lot of cases, it can show us just how close we are to success. The trick is to think of it in a positive light: Failure is an agent of growth, not of defeat.

Entrepreneurs and innovators around the world have been using failure as motivation for centuries. Whether it’s something as simple as realizing that a single setback isn’t going to ruin your progress, or something more complex, like using the details of the failure to grow a success, it’s almost always a benefit. These 10 quotes show that while everyone experiences failure at some point — and sometimes repeatedly — it doesn’t have to be a roadblock. Failure can actually be a force of positivity in our lives, even a necessary step in achieving our dreams.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
 Thomas Edison

Even if you fail at your ambitious thing, it’s very hard to fail completely.
 Larry Page

Failure and invention are inseparable twins.
 Jeff Bezos

I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.
 Michael Jordan

With engineering, I view this year’s failure as next year’s opportunity to try it again. Failures are not something to be avoided. You want to have them happen as quickly as you can so you can make progress rapidly.
 Intel co-founder Gordon Moore

Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.
 Motivational speaker and business coach Zig Ziglar

In my experience, each failure contains the seeds of your next success — if you are willing to learn from it.
 Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen

There’s no such thing as failure. There are only results.
 Motivational speaker and business coach Tony Robbins

In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.
 Mark Zuckerberg

If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.
 Elon Musk

7 Epigraphs That Start Novels Off Right


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Nothing sets the tone of a novel quite like a great opening sentence — nothing, that is, except an equally great epigraph. Not every book begins with a quotation or excerpt from another work, but those that do offer a sense of what you’re about to read; for that reason, they often resonate even more after you finish the novel they introduce. Even so, these seven exemplars of the genre are compelling no matter when you read them.


“THE SUN ALSO RISES” BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY

You are all a lost generation.
 Gertrude Stein

Ernest Hemingway is a luminary of the “Lost Generation,” but he didn’t actually coin the phrase. That honor belongs to his mentor, Gertrude Stein, whom he quoted at the beginning of The Sun Also Rises — a vital text of that movement, which represents those born at the turn of the 20th century who came of age during World War I and found themselves disenchanted in its aftermath. In literary terms, it refers specifically to the likes of Hemingway, Stein, and American expatriate writers who traveled abroad to find themselves — and write some of the 20th century’s defining works.

“FRANKENSTEIN” BY MARY SHELLEY

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?
 John Milton, “Paradise Lost, X, 743-45”

Whether you call the reanimated corpse at the center of Mary Shelley’s timeless classic Frankenstein or Frankenstein’s Monster, neither name is entirely accurate: the former because Frankenstein is the man who made him, the latter because he isn’t truly a monster. More than anything, he’s a victim — a being created in a lab to deny the laws of physics who, like Adam in this quote from John Milton’s epic poem, didn’t ask for any of this. It’s relatable to anyone who’s ever felt as though their circumstances were thrust upon them and they had no say in the matter — which is to say, everyone.

“HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS” BY J.K. ROWLING

Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.
 William Penn, “More Fruits of Solitude”

Only one book in the Harry Potter series begins with an epigraph: The Deathly Hallows, which concludes J.K. Rowling’s seven-part epic. It does so in part by saying goodbye to many more characters than you’d expect of a fantasy series aimed at children, with several fan favorites meeting devastating ends. Beyond that, there’s also the villain Voldemort’s obsession with achieving immortality no matter the cost, and the hero Harry’s growing realization that to confront his arch rival is also quite literally to confront death. With all that in mind, it would have been strange not to open the book with Penn’s ruminations on mortality, especially as the epigraph is also about the comfort our friends bring us: Harry Potter is about many things, but few through-lines are as ever-present in its pages as the importance of friendship.

“THE LITTLE FRIEND” BY DONNA TARTT

The slenderest knowledge that may be attained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge attained of lesser things.
 Saint Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologica”

The Little Friend isn’t as acclaimed as Donna Tartt’s other two novels, The Secret History and The Goldfinch, but her overlooked sophomore effort is essential reading for admirers of the Pulitzer Prize–winning author. A kind of mystery following a little girl coming of age in 1970s Mississippi, the book is concerned with nothing if not knowledge — especially because its central question is who murdered the protagonist’s older brother years before.

“ANSWERED PRAYERS” BY TRUMAN CAPOTE

More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.
 Teresa of Ávila

Speaking of lesser-known works from revered authors, Truman Capote’s unfinished novel went so far as to take its title from this musing attributed to Teresa of Ávila. The missing chapters of Answered Prayers have been the subject of much speculation since the book was published posthumously in 1986; one confidante claims to have read them in the years before Capote’s death, and that he gave her the key to a safe-deposit box supposedly containing them, though no such container was ever found. The book’s own editor’s note suggests that Capote may have destroyed those chapters himself.

In its own way, this behind-the-scenes intrigue touches on the epigraph’s meaning: If the book’s existence may itself be thought of as a kind of answered prayer, the effort to make it whole shows that getting what we want — or think we want — rarely solves our problems the way we expect it to.

“THE INFORMERS” BY BRET EASTON ELLIS

One night I was sitting on the bed in my hotel room on Bunker Hill, down in the very middle of Los Angeles. It was an important night in my life, because I had to make a decision about the hotel. Either I paid up or I got out. That was what the note said, the note the landlady had put under my door. A great problem, deserving acute attention. I solved it by turning out the lights and going to bed.
 John Fante, Ask the Dust

Not everyone confronts their problems head-on — especially in the books of Bret Easton Ellis. The opening paragraph of John Fante’s masterwork could have served as the epigraph of several of Ellis’ books, but the fact that he chose it for The Informers is no accident. The collection of short stories is set in Los Angeles, as is Fante’s Ask the Dust (and, for that matter, most of both writers’ bodies of work), and its criss-crossing characters are beset with an ennui that makes them even less proactive than Arturo Bandini, Fante’s tragicomic hero.

“TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD” BY HARPER LEE

Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.
– Charles Lamb

You wouldn’t think that a single quote could touch upon the perspectives of both Atticus and Scout Finch, but the epigraph that opens To Kill a Mockingbird does just that. Harper Lee’s all-timer of a novel is required reading for a reason, offering readers of all ages a profound lesson on how to treat those who are different from us and, really, how to look at the world. Too many of us forget what it was like to be a kid, whether by choice or through the simple passage of time, and few books remind us of that age of wonderment quite like To Kill a Mockingbird.

Why Alaska and the Arctic are Critical


Why Alaska and the Arctic are Critical to the National Security of the United States

https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/January-February-2018/Why-Alaska-and-the-Arctic-are-Critical-to-the-National-Security-of-the-United-States/

Sir David Attenborough – Quotes


Sir David Attenborough’s career as a broadcaster and natural historian has spanned almost 70 years, from the early days of black-and-white film to the age of HD and 3D imagery. His work as a writer and presenter with the BBC Natural History Unit has taken him all over the world, and made him one of the most well-traveled people on the planet. For his groundbreaking 1979 series Life on Earth, he traveled 1.5 million miles, and since then, he has made nine more Life series of similar scope.

Attenborough is considered one of the most trusted voices in his home country of Britain, and his unique narrative style is instantly recognizable, whether he’s talking about penguins or narrating one of Adele’s music videos. In 2016, Prince William paid tribute to Sir Attenborough, saying, “He’s a national treasure, and it is very fitting that he is having his 90th birthday only a few weeks after the Queen. They are two incredible national treasures who have done so much over the years.” He is equally popular among the scientific community; at least 15 animals and plants — both living and extinct — have been named in his honor, including a Peruvian frog (Pristimantis attenboroughi) and a plesiosaur from the Early Jurassic called Attenborosaurus.

During the last two decades, Attenborough has become increasingly outspoken about the impact of human society on the natural world. His warnings are often stark and urgent, and his words have motivated generations to take up the cause, including young activists like Greta Thunberg, who thanked Attenborough for inspiring her. But while his recent documentaries have focused more heavily on the destruction of the environment, Attenborough’s passion for the natural world has never diminished. From his earliest works to the present day, his quotes about our planet still inspire the same sense of awe.

ON LIFE

There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive.
 “Life on Earth,” 1979

ON OUR UNIQUE PLANET

Our planet, the Earth, is, as far as we know, unique in the universe. It contains life. Even in its most barren stretches, there are animals. Around the equator, where those two essentials for life, sunshine and moisture, are most abundant, great forests grow. And here plants and animals proliferate in such numbers that we still have not even named all the different species.
 “The Living Planet,” 1984

ON ANTARCTICA

I am at the very center of the great white continent, Antarctica. The South Pole is about half a mile away. For a thousand miles in all directions, there is nothing but ice. And, in the whole of this continent, which is about one-and-a-half times the size of the United States and larger than Europe, there is a year-round population of no more than 800 people. This is the loneliest and coldest place on Earth, the place that is most hostile to life. And yet, in one or two places, it is astonishingly rich.
 “Life in the Freezer,” 1993

ON PLANTS

These trees and bushes and grasses around me are living organisms just like animals. And they have to face very much the same sort of problems as animals face throughout their lives if they’re to survive. They have to fight one another, they have to compete for mates, they have to invade new territories. But the reason that we’re seldom aware of these dramas is that plants of course live on a different time-scale.
 “The Private Life of Plants,” 1995

ON BIRDS

Birds were flying from continent to continent long before we were. They reached the coldest place on Earth, Antarctica, long before we did. They can survive in the hottest of deserts. Some can remain on the wing for years at a time. They can girdle the globe.
 “The Life of Birds,” 1998

ON INVERTEBRATES

If we and the rest of the backboned animals were to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well. But if [the invertebrates] were to disappear, the land’s ecosystems would collapse.
 “Life in the Undergrowth,” 2005

ON HUMANITY

A hundred years ago, there were one-and-a-half billion people on Earth. Now, over six billion crowd our fragile planet. But even so, there are still places barely touched by humanity.
 “Planet Earth,” 2006

ON SURVIVAL

Our planet may be home to 30 million different kinds of animals and plants, each individual locked in its own lifelong fight for survival. Everywhere you look, on land or in the ocean, there are extraordinary examples of the lengths living things go to stay alive.
 “Life,” 2009

ON BLUE WHALES

A blue whale, 30 meters long and weighing over 200 tonnes. It’s far bigger than even the biggest dinosaur. Its tongue weighs as much as an elephant, its heart is the size of a car, and some of its blood vessels are so wide you could swim down them. Its tail alone is the width of a small aircraft’s wings.
 “Blue Planet,” 2001

ON THE ANNUAL SPAWNING OF THE CHRISTMAS ISLAND RED CRAB

The savage, rocky shores of Christmas Island, 200 miles south of Java, in the Indian Ocean. It’s November, the moon is in its third quarter, and the sun is just setting. And in a few hours from now, on this very shore, a thousand million lives will be launched.
 “The Trials of Life,” 1990

ON EXPERIENCE

Experience has taught me how amazingly big and unpredictable the natural world is. When you’re young, you think you know it all about the natural world — “Yawn, yawn, everyone knows about that.” But in fact we only know a tiny proportion about the complexity of the natural world. Wherever you look, there are still things we don’t know about and don’t understand, as recent discoveries about, say, the behaviors of pufferfish and peacock spiders prove. There are always new things to find out if you go looking for them. They will last me out!
– Interview with “The Independent,” two days before his 90th birthday

ON THE FUTURE

With or without us, the wild will return … It seems that, however grave our mistakes, nature will be able to overcome them, given the chance.
– “A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future,” 2020

Seasoned Nuts Quotable


“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky

Convivial


WORD OF THE DAY
Convivial
kən-VIV-ee-əl
Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Latin, mid-17th century
1

(Of an atmosphere or event) friendly, lively, and enjoyable; (of a person) cheerful and friendly; jovial

Examples of Convivial in a sentence

“The housewarming party was convivial and welcoming.”

“Thérèse was a charming, convivial dinner host — and a good cook, too.”

15 quotes to inspire self-love


15 Quotes to Inspire Self-Love

June 16, 2021

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Like love for others, self-love can take many forms, from simple friendship with oneself to purposeful acts of self-care or self-protection. While specific routines and approaches may trend on and off, the concept of self-love is ancient. Religious and cultural leaders, popular artists, poets, and others around the world have long heralded the inherent lovableness and divinity of human beings.

Self-love is not the same as selfishness or ignorance of others’ needs; seeing our own inherent worth can sometimes help us remember the worth of others. Some people practice loving self-care from a practical and altruistic place in order to  better serve others, as in the oft-referenced airplane emergency directions to put your own oxygen mask on first. This mindset centers the understanding that if we ourselves are depleted, it is harder to be  generous with  others.

At the most basic level, we must learn to understand and meet our own needs in order to survive, and, certainly, if we hope to thrive and enjoy our lives to the fullest. Self-love can also be a simple appreciation of the traits that make us uniquely ourselves. For communities who have experienced oppression, self-love may even be a revolutionary choice.

Whatever form it takes, loving and caring for yourself is a positive force in the world. Here are 15 quotes that describe the myriad forms and special power of self-love.

At this moment, you are seamlessly flowing with the cosmos. There is no difference between your breathing and the breathing of the rainforest, between your bloodstream and the world’s rivers, between your bones and the chalk cliffs of Dover.
— Deepak Chopra

I’m in love with my future, can’t wait to meet her…
I’m in love but not with anybody else; just wanna’ get to know myself.
I know, supposedly, I’m lonely now,
know I’m supposed to be unhappy without someone
but aren’t I someone?
— “My Future,” Billie Eilish (written by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell)

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence; it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.
— Audrey Lorde

It’s about waking up in the morning and saying that I’m worthy of love, belonging, and joy. It’s about engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.
— Brené Brown

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
— Mary Oliver

The most wonderful thing about Tiggers is that I’m the only one.
— A.A. Milne

I figured out I gotta be my own type… It’s a me, myself kinda attitude.
‘Cause I’m my own soulmate, I know how to love me.
— “Soulmate,” Lizzo (written by Lizzo, Sean Douglas, and Warren Felder)

May I be happy, may I be well.
May I be kind toward my suffering.
May I cultivate more kindness within my heart.
May I cultivate more peace within my heart.
— Traditional Buddhist Metta (loving kindness meditation)

The sky could fall down, the wind could cry now,
the strong in me, I still smile.
I love myself.
— “i,” Kendrick Lamar (written by Ernie Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Rudolph Isley, Ronald Isley, Marvin Isley, Christopher Jasper, Kendrick Lamar, and Rahki)

No matter what troubles have befallen you or what difficulties you have caused yourself or others, with love for yourself you can change, grow, make amends, and learn… Real love does not encourage you to ignore your problems or deny your mistakes and imperfections. You see them clearly and still opt to love.
— Sharon Salzberg

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
— St. Paul, the Bible

All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.
— Carl Sagan

The way to get kindness with(in) yourself is spending time being nice to yourself, spending time getting to know and (dare I say it!) getting to love yourself… Loving yourself helps you love other people.
— Jeffrey Marsh, American writer, activist, and social media personality

No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity
because the greatest love of all is happening to me.
I found the greatest love of all inside of me…
Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.
— “Greatest Love of All,” Whitney Houston (written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed)

I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is… We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.
— Alice Walker

Did you know…


Did you know…

… that today is the birthday of Kate Beckinsale (1973), Sandra Bullock (1964), and Helen Mirren (1946). Grab some popcorn and watch your favorite movie with a female lead!

~~~

Today’s Inspirational Quote:

“Each of us has been put on earth with the ability to do something well. We cheat ourselves and the world if we don’t use that ability as best we can.”

— Gracie Allen

Pulchritudinous


WORD OF THE DAY
Pulchritudinouspəl-krə-TOOD-ən-əsPart of speech: adjectiveOrigin: English, 15th century
1Beautiful.
 
Examples of Pulchritudinous in a sentence “Her pulchritudinous looks charmed everyone at the table.” “The wedding planner provided lush, pulchritudinous flower arrangements.”

Newsletters I like: Brainpickings.org


This is the weekly email digest of the daily online journal Brain Pickings by Maria Popova. If you missed last week’s edition — do people change, the art of ending painful relationships, Hannah Arendt on what forgiveness (really) means, poet Naomi Shihab Nye’s advice on writing — you can catch up right here. If my labor of love enriches your life in any way, please consider supporting it with a donation – for a decade and a half, I have spent tens of thousands of hours, made many personal sacrifices, and invested tremendous resources in Brain Pickings, which remains free and ad-free and alive thanks to reader patronage. If you already donate: THANK YOU.

Art and Aliveness: Willa Cather on Attention and the Life of the Senses as the Key to Creativity

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“Her voice is deep, rich, and full of color; she speaks with her whole body, like a singer… Whatever she does is done with every fibre,” a Nebraskan journalist observed on the pages of the Lincoln Star after meeting the brilliant and reclusive Willa Cather (December 7, 1873–April 24, 1947) while she was working on the novel that would soon win her the Pulitzer Prize, having already written the one that prompted F. Scott Fitzgerald to despair that The Great Gatsby is a failure by comparison.

Perhaps because they conversed while walking in the autumn sunshine — something Cather, who found her greatest happiness in nature, had requested — and perhaps because the interviewer was also a woman in an era when so few women’s words and thoughts and experiences appeared on the printed page, the conversation that unfurled, later published in Willa Cather in Person: Interviews, Speeches, and Letters (public library), remains the most candid and revealing glimpse of Cather’s creative credo, process, and philosophy of art — which is at bottom, always, a philosophy of life.willacather_blue.jpg?resize=583%2C840

Willa Cather

The two meandered beneath the fiery autumnal canopy near the home Cather shared with the love of her life, the conversation meandering accordingly in that natural synchrony between the foot and the mind, leaving the interlocutor to marvel:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngThe longer Miss Cather talks, the more one is filled with the conviction that life is a fascinating business and one’s own experience more fascinating than one had ever suspected it of being. Some persons have this gift of infusing their own abundant vitality into the speaker.

Cather had honed her own love of life — that essential wellspring of creative vitality — in childhood, roaming the wilderness on foot, on horseback, and in her parents’ farm wagon. As a young writer — not privileged, not straight, not resigned to the era’s conventional domestic destiny for a woman — she often worked until the small hours, ate no breakfast to save time and money, and learned to inhabit the world with the full-body presence that would soon give her novels their uncommonly transportive sensorial enchantment.hasuikawase1.jpg?resize=680%2C1014

Spring Moon at Ninomiya Beach by Hasui Kawase, 1931. (Available as a print.)

Contemplating the subject of creativity, Cather laments that nothing is more “fatal to the spirit of art” than the rise of what she aptly terms “superficial culture” — the commodification of art not as an instrument of aliveness but as a status symbol, pursued by rich ladies who “run about from one culture club to another studying Italian art out of a textbook and an encyclopedia and believing that they are learning something about it by memorizing a string of facts.” To her, the young black boy on the porch improvising a Verdi opera on his fiddle by ear — with no formal knowledge of what he is playing and no theoretical rationale for why it is so stirring his soul — “has more real understanding of Italian art than these esthetic creatures with a head and a larynx, and no organs that they get any use of, who reel you off the life of Leonardo da Vinci.”

The creative experience, Cather insists, is a matter of tuning into the inner feeling-tone strummed not by our cerebrations but by our creaturely relishment of the world.etiennedenisse_celestine_sm.jpg?resize=680%2C1018

Blue bindweed by Étienne Denisse, 1840s. (Available as a print, a cutting board, and stationery cards, benefitting the New York Botanical Garden.)

Decades before poet and science historian Diane Ackerman rooted our creaturely and creative vitality in the delights of the senses, Cather echoes her contemporary Egon Schiele’s exhortation to “envy those who see beauty in everything in the world” and observes:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngArt is a matter of enjoyment through the five senses. Unless you can see the beauty all around you everywhere, and enjoy it, you can never comprehend art.

A generation before the star teacher of Black Mountain College made her exquisite case for creativity as a way of being, arguing that art is made “with food, with children, with building blocks, with speech, with thoughts, with pigment, with an umbrella, or a wineglass, or a torch,” Cather adds:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngEsthetic appreciation begins with the enjoyment of the morning bath. It should include all the activities of life… The farmer’s wife who raises a large family and cooks for them and makes their clothes and keeps house and on the side runs a truck garden and a chicken farm and a canning establishment, and thoroughly enjoys doing it all, and doing it well, contributes more to art than all the culture clubs. Often you find such a woman with all the appreciation of the beautiful bodies of her children, of the order and harmony of her kitchen, of the real creative joy of all her activities, which marks the great artist.

Lest we forget, there are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives.

In consonance with Rilke’s beautiful reflections on the reservoir of experiences required for creativity, Cather adds:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngMany people seem to think that art is a luxury to be imported and tacked on to life. Art springs out of the very stuff that life is made of. Most of our young authors start to write a story and make a few observations from nature to add local color. The results are invariably false and hollow. Art must spring out of the fullness and the richness of life.

Complement with James Baldwin on what it means to be an artist, then revisit Cather on the life-changing advice that made her a writer and her moving letter to her brother about making art through times of inner turmoil.

FORWARD TO A FRIEND/READ ONLINE/
donating=lovingFor 15 years, I have been spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars each month to keep Brain Pickings going. It has remained free and ad-free and alive thanks to patronage from readers. I have no staff, no interns, no assistant — a thoroughly one-woman labor of love that is also my life and my livelihood. If this labor makes your life more livable in any way, please consider aiding its sustenance with a donation. Your support makes all the difference.monthly donationYou can become a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a Brooklyn lunch. one-time donationOr you can become a Spontaneous Supporter with a one-time donation in any amount.Partial to Bitcoin? You can beam some bit-love my way: 197usDS6AsL9wDKxtGM6xaWjmR5ejgqem7

The Theory of Everything (We Know So Far): The Ultimate Animated Primer on the Most Successful Model of Reality in the History of Humanity and Its Fertile Limits

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Between the time Hypatia of Alexandria first pointed her pre-telescopic eye to the cosmos millennia before the notion of galaxies and the time Vera Rubin stood at the foot of the world’s most powerful telescope to confirm the existence of dark matter by observing how distant galaxies rotate, and in all the time before, and in all the time since, we have hungered to understand the forces that move the stars and the Moon and the mind. Ever since Galileo leaned on his artistic training in perspective to draw his astronomical observations intimating that the universe might not be what the theologians have claimed it to be, humanity has been on a passionate and disorienting quest to understand the nature of the mystery that made us.thomaswright_galaxies3.jpg?resize=680%2C977

Art from An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe, 1750. (Available as a print, as a face mask, and as stationery cards.)

In the centuries since, we have made staggering discoveries of fundamental forces swirling exotic particles into “the ricochet wonder of it all: the plain everythingness of everything, in cahoots with the everythingness of everything else.” Along the way, in our longing for a final theory of everything, we have been staggered by revelation after revelation that things are not what we previously thought them to be and beneath each layer of reality we have unpeeled lies another. The heavens are not a clockwork orrery of perfect orbs revolving around us in perfect circles. The cosmic wilderness is overgrown with a species of mystery we call dark matter and the fabric of spacetime is pocked with black holes the rims of which gape our Munchian scream at the sense that the universe remains a sweeping enigma whose native language we are only just beginning to decipher, naming our particles and composing our equations in the alphabet of a long-gone civilization that believed the Earth was flat and the stars were at its service.thomaswright6.jpg?resize=680%2C753

Art from An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe, 1750. (Available as a print, as a face mask, and as stationery cards.)

Our yearning for a Theory of Everything has culminated in what we call the Standard Model — a conceptual map of all the known particles and the fundamental forces that govern them to make the universe cohere into everything we know and are. It is the most successful scientific theory in the history of our species. But it is rather a Theory of Everything We Know So Far, at once triumphal and tessellated with incompleteness.

The essence of that theory, its central contradictions, and how it contours the next layer of reality awaiting discovery is what theoretical physicist David Tong details in this animated primer for Quanta Magazine, drawing out discoveries and questions that punctuate the excellent anthology Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire: The Biggest Ideas in Science from Quanta (public library).

5691e934-576b-969f-633f-5e47df515ae5.png

Complement with an animated look at the little loophole in the Big Bang model, then revisit the remarkable story of how Johannes Kepler revolutionized our understanding of the universe while defending his mother in a witchcraft trial.

FORWARD TO A FRIEND/READ ONLINE/

Rocky Mountain Flowers: The Daring Life and Art of Pioneering Plant Ecologist Edith Clements

“There is one book that I would rather have produced than all my novels,” Willa Cather rued in her most candid interview about creativity. That book was Rocky Mountain Flowers: An Illustrated Guide For Plant-Lovers and Plant-Users (public library | public domain) by the pioneering plant ecologist and botanical artist Edith Clements (1874–1971).rockymountainflowers_edithclements16.jpg?resize=680%2C1013

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)rockymountainflowers_edithclements10.jpg?resize=680%2C1029

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)

Together with her husband, the influential botanist Frederic Clements, she pioneered the science of plant ecology, lending empirical substantiation to her contemporary John Muir’s poetic observation that “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” In her 1960 memoir Adventures in Ecology: Half a Million Miles: From Mud to Macadam (public library), penned shortly before Rachel Carson awakened the modern ecological conscience with Silent Spring and half a century before the climate calamity we are now living, Edith Clements prophesied:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngThere seems little doubt that the application of the principles of ecology to human affairs, whether personal, national or world-wide, would go far in solving the problems that beset us.

clements2.jpg?resize=680%2C441

Edith and Frederic Clements, early 1900s.

Having begun as Frederic’s doctoral student — the first woman awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, then an epicenter of botany and earth science — Edith went on to be his partner in science and life.

Young, passionate, and poor, they headed for the Rocky Mountains to build a research station for controlled study of how various environmental conditions impact plants, their acclimatization, and their relationships.

Nothing like this had been attempted before.

They called it The Dream.

In a stroke of necessity-dictated entrepreneurship, they set out to fund it into reality by coupling their scientific knowledge with Edith’s artistic talent to create an unexampled guide to the wildflowers of the Rockies, which they would then sell to scientific institutions.rockymountainflowers_edithclements17.jpg?resize=680%2C1022

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)rockymountainflowers_edithclements2.jpg?resize=680%2C1014

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)

Two centuries after the young self-taught botanist and artist Elizabeth Blackwell painted her astonishing encyclopedia of medicinal plants and as a century after the young Emily Dickinson composed her delicate herbarium of native New England wildflowers, the young Edith Clements began collecting, classifying, photographing, and painting 533 plant specimens from the mountains of Colorado for a meticulously annotated herbarium, completed in 1903 and followed by a second volume in 1904. It became the foundation of the book that would so enchanted Willa Cather a decade later.rockymountainflowers_edithclements18.jpg?resize=680%2C1030

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)

With the income from the first herbarium, Edith and Frederic purchased a tiny cabin beneath a colossal pine on the side of a Colorado hill and set up the scientific instruments the university had lent.

The Dream became rugged reality and the shack became the first building of their Alpine Laboratory.

Over the years to follow, the single shack grew to a five-room cottage with a glass-enclosed veranda. Graduate students came to study with Edith and Frederic. Scholars visited from Japan, China, India, Australia, England, and continental Europe.clements_alpinelaboratory.jpg?resize=680%2C543

With graduate students and visiting scholars at the Alpine Laboratory.clements5.jpg?resize=680%2C449

Edith, Frederic, and graduate students descending the hill near the Alpine Laboratory.

Eventually, the government recognized how invaluable this work would be to the National Parks. Frederic was offered a paid position. Edith was not. They took the assignment anyway, together, and set out to study the reproduction of conifers in forests.clements4.jpg?resize=680%2C455

Edith and Frederic’s car stuck in a mud-hole during a field trip.clements3.jpg?resize=680%2C433

Edith and Frederic at work.

They climbed hills, crossed prairies, trekked into meadows and marshes, Frederic making notes and charts of the vegetation, Edith painting the wildflowers “until swarms of mosquitos made it impossible.”

As they worked, he whistled and she sang.rockymountainflowers_edithclements1.jpg?resize=680%2C1032

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)rockymountainflowers_edithclements14.jpg?resize=680%2C1021

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)

In quiet, bold contrast to the era’s appetite for impressionistic and abstract flower blossoms — this was the golden age of Georgia O’Keeffe — Edith painted the whole plant in its natural colors, with the correct number of petals and stamens. She called her paintings “portraits,” reflecting her determination to show people what plants are really like, with all the dazzling scientific complexity undergirding the aesthetic splendor.rockymountainflowers_edithclements9.jpg?resize=680%2C1029

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)rockymountainflowers_edithclements4.jpg?resize=680%2C1008

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)rockymountainflowers_edithclements11.jpg?resize=680%2C997

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)

In 1926, the editor of National Geographic encountered Edith’s plates of flower family trees, depicting the relationships and evolution of different plant families, and found them to be just the sort of thing to make readers “sit up and take notice.” He was right. When thirty-two of Edith’s paintings backboned a 7,000-word magazine feature about plant ecology in May 1927, the issue sold out in record time. Recognizing the allure of the framable flower illustrations, enterprising young people bought extra copies to resell at manyfold the price.

Plant ecology entered the popular imagination for the first time, via the portal of Edith’s botanical art.rockymountainflowers_edithclements15.jpg?resize=680%2C1021

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)rockymountainflowers_edithclements8.jpg?resize=680%2C1042

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)rockymountainflowers_edithclements7.jpg?resize=680%2C1036

Wildflowers from Rocky Mountain Flowers by Edith Clements, 1914. (Available as a print and as stationery cards, benefitting The Nature Conservancy.)

Edith and Frederic went on to consult the newly founded Bureau of Soil Erosion, helped the Navajo Indian Reservation of New Mexico rewild a dismally overgrazed pasture, opposed the building of dams along the Missouri River, and were called on by numerous panicked government agencies when poor understanding of ecology in agriculture unleashed the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, which devastated the ecosystem of an entire continent, made refugees of thousands of farmers, and inspired Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.clements_dustbowl.jpg?resize=680%2C472

Frederic Clements atop a dust-swallowed farm during the Dust Bowl years. Photograph by Edith Clements.

The Clementses devised soil conservation methods for leveling Dust Bowl dunes and replanting them with native grasses and corn crops, mechanisms for diverting and conserving flood water, techniques for rewilding fire-denuded slopes.

As Edith and Frederic Clements pioneered the study of plant ecology together, they were celebrated as “the most illustrious husband-wife team since the Curies.” But their work was also seen as quixotic for its countercultural ethos, decades ahead of its time. In an era of world wars, when science was reduced to military technology and coopted as a handmaiden of dueling nationalisms, Edith and Frederic endeavored to advance the conservation of this one indivisible planet by better understanding the role of climate and the relationships between life-forms. Along the way, they raised and began answering such complex and previously unasked questions as what makes a forest a forest — questions that would unravel some of the most astonishing science of our time.clements.jpg?resize=680%2C581

Edith and Frederic Clements, 1911.

FORWARD TO A FRIEND/READ ONLINE/

NEWSLETTERS I LIKE: FS Brainfood


FS | BRAIN FOOD

Sunday Brain Food: a weekly newsletter full of timeless ideas and insights for life and business.

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FS

The problem is that our culture does not recognize that the true nature of math is art. So we teach it in a manner that would just as easily ruin any other art. … What if music education was all about notation and theory, with listening or playing only open to those who somehow persevered until college

— Math isn’t boring

Explore Your Curiosity

★ “Looking back on my career, my favorite managers allowed me to own decisions, even if they disagreed with me. They couldn’t do this for every decision — some were just too expensive or difficult to reverse. But if they spotted an opportunity for me to own a decision, they let me run with it. This would often be preceded by spirited debate, where they challenged my assumptions and forced me to think through various outcomes. Then they gave me the space to decide and room to fail and learn (and to sometimes surprise them).”

— High Impact Managers

★ A fascinating look at how nature uses speed (centralized decisions) and acquires accuracy (decentralized decisions).

“[N]ervous systems can implement multiple forms of government simultaneously. A neuronal dictatorship can coexist with an oligarchy or democracy. The dictator, acting fastest, may trigger the onset of a behavior while other neurons fine-tune the ensuing movements. There does not need to be a single form of government as long as the behavioral consequences increase the probability of survival and reproduction.”

— Is Your Nervous System a Democracy or a Dictatorship?

★ “Despite being one of the most familiar and widely recognized natural phenomena, lightning remains relatively poorly understood. Even the most basic questions of how lightning is initiated inside thunderclouds and how it then propagates for many tens of kilometers have only begun to be addressed.”

— The Physics of Lightning

Timeless Insight

“When you focus on the past, that’s your ego. … When I focus on the future, that’s my pride. I try to focus on the present. That’s humility.”

— Giannis Antetokounmpo (source)

Focusing on past accomplishments creates obstacles to success in the present. If you’re still talking about something great you did 20 years ago like it was yesterday, your ego is getting in the way.

What you did in the past makes a good story. What you’re doing now makes a difference.

Tiny Thought

Lack of courage sabotages more people than lack of ability.
Don’t beat yourself before you start.

Wisdom From the Kitchen of Julia Child


For many of us, one of our first memories of cooking is listening to the jovial voice of a very tall woman on PBS, chuckling as she methodically deboned a chicken or loaded a dish with butter.

Julia Child was — and still is — an icon in the cooking world. She was born in California in 1912, and in 1949 moved with her husband to Paris, where she enrolled in the French cooking school Cordon Bleu as the only woman in her class. In 1961, after co-writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she returned to the United States, and two years later, officially introduced the country to the art of French cuisine with the debut of her television show The French Chef.

Her shows were drenched in joy and butter. Viewers loved her cheerful wobbly voice, her zeal to brandish a large knife, her ability to make fancy cooking accessible, and her bowlful of quips and life lessons in each episode.

Child didn’t just have sage wisdom about food, though. She looked at life through the lens of cooking, and many of her insightful comments can apply both in and out of the kitchen. Whether it’s using a dropped piece of meat as a metaphor for moving forward after making a mistake, or reflecting on how flipping something in a pan is a way to break free from fear, the multiple layers of meaning make her words all the more delicious. The 10 quotes below are some of the tastiest. In the words of Child herself, bon appetit!

ON LETTING GO

Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?

ON EXCELLENCE

A cookbook is only as good as its poorest recipe.

ON TAKING RISKS

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.

ON GOING FOR IT

The only way you learn how to flip things is just to flip them.

ON DILIGENCE

The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile. I think of my strawberry souffle. I did that at least 28 times before I finally conquered it.

ON CONFIDENCE

Just speak very loudly and quickly, and state your position with utter conviction, as the French do, and you’ll have a marvelous time!

ON DISCIPLINE

You must have discipline to have fun.

ON LIVING TO THE FULLEST

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.

ON INDECISION

People are uncertain because they don’t have the self-confidence to make decisions.

ON CREATIVITY

The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.

Word of the day


WORD OF THE DAY
Compendiouskəm-PEN-dee-əsPart of speech: adjectiveOrigin: French, late 14th century
1Containing or presenting the essential facts of something in a comprehensive but concise way.
 
Examples of Compendious in a sentence “Jared’s compendious recitation of archaic literature impressed his professors.” “The book was a compendious study of film history. “
WORD OF THE DAY
Compendiouskəm-PEN-dee-əsPart of speech: adjectiveOrigin: French, late 14th century
1Containing or presenting the essential facts of something in a comprehensive but concise way.
 
Examples of Compendious in a sentence “Jared’s compendious recitation of archaic literature impressed his professors.” “The book was a compendious study of film history. “

Scaling sustainable aviation fuel today for clean skies tomorrow


From farm to sky: Feedstocks fuel India’s path to cleaner skies


How the European Union could achieve net-zero emissions at net-zero cost


* “Let the market fix it”


* “Let the market fix it” [ https://p.feedblitz.com/r3.asp?l=179670557&f=1081591&c=7842865&u=5102652 ]

After all, the marketplace is scalable, independent, self-funding, convenient and persistent.

Except there are problems that the market hasn’t solved, and probably can’t. A century into this worldwide experiment, the market hasn’t solved mass education, it’s made obesity and health problems worse, and it has dumped an enormous amount of long-term toxic waste into the world where we all live.

Patient capital can work wonders, but networked economies are becoming ever more impatient in their race for basis points and shortcuts.

When we hand a chronic problem over to the market, it might be because we can’t bear to look at it or take responsibility for the hard work and sacrifice it will take to solve it.

If the market can solve a problem, it’s a bargain. Markets are effective listening devices and resilient and often self-coordinating. But expecting the market to solve every problem isn’t useful.

Sometimes, the specific tools of the open market aren’t aligned with the problem at hand. Externalities, patience and incentives are all worth considering before we decide the problem will solve itself.