“If I were asked under what sky the human mind…has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions to some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant — I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life…again I should point to India.”
— Max Müller, via the opening chapter on Hinduism in The World’s Religions.
Claude Fischer tries to rebut the recent slew of articles suggesting loneliness is at all-time highs. In fact, the “studies” that conclude there’s a loneliness epidemic among Americans — and which serve as the basis for many of the popular writing on the topic — are dinky, Fischer says.
The final paragraph of his piece is the best:
Loneliness is a social problem because lonely people suffer. But it’s not a growing problem. Moreover, the loneliness that should worry us is not generated by a teen’s Facebook humiliation, a globetrotter’s sense of disorientation, or the romantic languor of a novelist. It is, rather, the loneliness of the old man whose wife and best friends have died, the shunned schoolchild, the overburdened single mother, and the immigrant working the night shift to send money home. There’s nothing new or headline-worthy about their loneliness, but it is real and important.
Here’s my post on the myth of urban loneliness. Here’s my post on the guilt-free, pain-free solitude that you get when traveling abroad alone.
To the question, “Has an astronaut ever had a psychotic episode or mental breakdown while on a mission in space?” an answerer on Quora says no, but posts the below quote as representative of epiphanies astronauts tend to have when staring at Planet Earth:
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
— Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, People magazine, 8 April 1974.
So the question is, how long will it be till all of us can go a quarter of a million miles out and see what Edgar Mitchell saw? Here’s to the entrepreneurs pioneering commercial space flight: Go Richard Branson! Go Jeff Bezos! Go Elon Musk!
I've never viewed myself as particularly talented. I've viewed myself as…slightly above average in talent. Where I excel is with a ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guy's sleeping, I'm working. While the other guy's eating, I'm working. While the other guy's making love, I mean, I'm making love, too, but I'm working really hard at it!
That's from Will Smith in an old 60 Minutes interview.
I once heard Jay Leno say something similar. Leno apparently hasn't taken a vacation in more than 20 years and he says whenever he sees Letterman ("the other guy," to use Smith's phrasing) on vacation, he keeps on working.
Smith and Leno see their work ethic as relative to their competitors.