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Homo sapiens

8 Aug

I was stopped at a red light the other day watching a car slowly cross the intersection in front of me when a pickup truck flew past me and T-boned the car. Fortunately, no one was injured.

I suspect the pickup’s driver was headed to a job site (tools in the back looked like he was a carpenter), and he had something other than driving on his mind. The red light didn’t register with him. I’ve done things like that, and I suspect many reading this have done it, too. We were just lucky enough not to hit somebody.

Driving just isn’t complex enough to keep our minds occupied. Its sheer ease invites us to let our minds wander, to think about work, music, family, vacations, or sex. They are all more interesting than driving.

The accident also highlights an annoying trait of humans as a species: in spite of remarkable accomplishments in science, art, and philosophy, we still keep a virtual stranglehold on “stupid,” and we show no signs of letting go. That’s true of the pickup’s driver, of me, and probably of most of the people I know. It kind of defines being human.

If you don’t believe me, watch the news during this election season.

The Unconscious Self

2 Aug

“The unconscious self is the real genius. Your breathing goes wrong the moment your conscious self meddles with it.¬†Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.”

George Bernard Shaw