Philosophy Tuesday

“When I was 15 I spent a month working on an archeological dig.  I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports?  What’s your favorite subject?   And I told him, no I don’t play any sports.  I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.  

And he went, “WOW.  That’s amazing! “

And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.” 

And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them.  I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”

And that honestly changed my life.  Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them.  I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them. “

 — Three Rings

(I love this.  Pair it with some previous thoughts I shared on on art and self-expression, which also references the myth of Talent (or as I put it, the Tyranny of Talent).

The blog post by Three Rings also quoted a letter purportedly written by Kurt Vonnegut, which contained this lovely gem in it:

“Here’s an assignment for tonight… Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed.  Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

Now that’s an assignment!)

Wonder Wednesday

I love the movie Ratatouille.  It’s delicious (pun intended) on so many levels… lovely animation, great and quiet storytelling, risk-taking, it’s all about Paris and food and wine, and it has some wonderfully powerful philosophical moments.

So it was with delight I heard a story on NPR this past weekend that one of the hot things on TikTok of late is a bunch of fans coming forth to craft a Ratatouille musical.  (Or Rattatouisical, if you prefer!)  One even went so far as to create a fake Playbill for the thing, complete with a brilliant illustration of the signature dish on a fork, subtly shaped to look like Remy!

Very fun to muse over and great to see so much excitement and creativity.  Check out the NPR story, and a quick ‘net search will find you all the various TikTok submissions as well.

La fête va enfin commencer
Sortez les bouteilles; finis les ennuis
Je dresse la table, de ma nouvell(e) vie
Je suis heureux à l’idée de ce nouveau destin
Une vie à me cacher et puis libre enfin
Le festin est sur mon chemin

Une vie à me cacher et puis libre enfin
Le festin est sur mon chemin

Wonder Saturday

I have almost no regrets in life.

One regret I do have though is that I once, through a friend who had an astronaut friend going up in the shuttle, had an opportunity to go and watch that shuttle launch, from NASA grounds, in front of that iconic countdown clock.  Yet for a series of reasons I did not do the work to make it all work out so that I could go.  I missed the launch.

That was an err.

This morning, however, I did at least partially rectify that:

Yes!  I headed down to Vandenberg to watch SpaceX launch a Falcon 9… and then bring that first stage right back for a landing a mere couple of hundred feet from where it started.

And it. Was. GLORIOUS.  The skies were (as you can see) almost perfectly clear, and were treated to a grand view of the takeoff (once it cleared the hills the pad sits behind), the ascent, the beautiful fan tail as it hit altitude, the stage separation, the boostback burn, the entry burn, and then the giddiness-inducing landing burn all the way back behind that hill.  Followed a moment later by one heck of a grand sonic boom.  We all were cheering like crazy.

Hours later I’m still all fired up (pun intended).  That flame is bright in a way that no camera can do justice to.  It just sears into you (in a good way).  And those 9 Merlin engines make an absolutely delicious growl — deep thrumming, with a slight crackle, oh it’s divine.  The whole ascent also feels so much quicker than it does watching the webcast; the two minutes until first stage sep goes by so fast.  And coming back, wow, right from the entry burn that booster grew in size in the binocular’s field of view at an amazing rate.  That thing comes back hard and fast and it really gives a sense of what that landing burn is accomplishing to set down so gently onto the pad.

With the pièce de résistence being the sonic krackthoom that rolls across the landscape.

Want to hear it?  Well feast your ears on this audio capture of the whole event! (Quick content note: there is some very excited swearing throughout, because, well, excitement!)

Great day.  Totally loved it.  I’m 100% convinced I need to go watch another launch.  With the reduced cadence at Vandenberg (especially now that polar launches are a thing from Cape Canaveral) I don’t know when that might be, but I will make it out again.

photo above taken by Calvin, who was standing beside me as we marveled in awe at the flight