I came across a quote last week that I want to share with you.
It’s taken from a letter that Charles Darwin—the Father of Evolution—wrote at the end of his life. He said:
“Up to the age of 30, or beyond it, poetry gave me great pleasure. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, and if I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music several times every week. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
Now I could care less about “moral character,” but what Darwin wrote about making time really resonated with me.
As I write this blog, I’m in the midst of the hectic final launch phase of another fitness ebook package. It’s the best ebook we’ve produced to date, and after three or four sleepless weeks of production it finally goes on sale tonight at midnight.
It’s so easy to get caught up in work, especially when that work is well received.
Darwin’s words are a reminder not to lose sight of the things that truly fulfill me, and not to marginalize that which I love the most.
They are a reminder to always defend that precious hour of reading time each day, no matter how much the work piles up. Reading is the fuel of good writing, and it’s also a window on a larger world of thought, experience and ideas that span centuries. A life without reading is a life lived on the surface.
Darwin’s words are a reminder to make time to plug in good headphones and really listen to music that means something. I used to do that a lot. These days I only do it on airplanes. When wifi reaches the air, I’ll lose that space too.
Darwin’s words are a reminder to leave on a regular basis. To drop off the map entirely, stop taking calls, stop replying to emails, and just wander alone in a country where I don’t speak the language–no matter what the “project timeline” dictates. To find those special landscapes and spend entire days sitting at a café table, soaking up the feeling of that place, waiting for insights to float to the surface. Those are the only times I ever truly grow.
Finally, Darwin’s words are a reminder that, while we each have many talents, we have only one true gift. You’ll recognize yours immediately because it’s the only one that doesn’t feel like “work.” I wear many hats, but I am at core a travel writer. That’s all.
It can be easy to forget that core as life speeds up and pulls us each in.
Did anyone ever picture Darwin as a lover of poetry? Neither did I. In my imagination Darwin exists as a hard-headed, clear cut, bushy bearded man of science. But who knows what more he could have been if he hadn’t accepted that mold.
What do Darwin’s words mean to you?
And more importantly, what are you going to do about it?