Doing errands just now, I found myself driving more aggressively than usual, swearing. “Damn it,” I’m tired of suffering fools,” I told myself. But, that isn’t it, exactly. Unless, maybe, I’m the fool I’m talking about. Something deeper is going on. I stopped for a coffee, hoping to calm down.
I opened a new book I am reading, Kathleen Jamie’s latest book, Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World. I read this.
Once, I asked my friend John–half in jest–why we are so driven. By day, John counsels drug addicts; by night he is a poet. He wrote back, half in jest: “You know, my job isn’t to provide answers, only more questions. Like: why are we not more driven? Consider: the atoms of you have been fizzing about for a bit less than five billion years, and for forty-odd of those years, they’ve been pretty well as self-aware as you. But soon enough they’ll go fizzing off again into the grasses and whatever, and they’ll never, ever know themselves as the sum of you again. That’s it. And you ask me why we’re driven? Why aren’t more folk driven? Whatever are they thinking about?
Indeed. That is exactly the problem. Why aren’t we more driven!? That is the question I think is making me drive more aggressively. I think the fool I am suffering is the fool who is ignoring that question.
I haven’t read much of Jamie’s book yet, but it has won both the John Burroughs Association 2014 Medal for Distinguished Natural History Book and the 2014 Orion Book Award. Terrific, so far. And, it definitely got this long-time physicist off his hind end and moving again this afternoon.