The word virus comes from the Latin term for poison. I mean, that’s not a good start. Most people don’t believe that viruses are a life form. In biology, living things are divided into 5 kingdoms: bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, animals. Viruses are not included because they lack a fundamental characteristic of living beings: the ability to reproduce by themselves. Put a virus on a table and don’t let it get in contact with anyone and it stays there without moving or changing. But in contact with the right cell, there it “animates”, reproduces and spreads. Then it can be trouble. But the luck lies in the fact that viruses are extremely specialized: a given virus only attacks certain types of cells of certain living beings. And it can also be useful to human beings…
I used to feel Christmas as a kid a lot. I’m not talking about the happiness of receiving gifts and phrases like “we’re all nicer to each other and merrier today”. Even then I felt that there was something special, something that I still like today. My son now keeps saying that Santa Claus doesn’t exist and that we put the presents under the tree. He’s “exposed” us a while ago, that’s normal. But my wife insists on the Santa story, she wants to keep some magic in him. And I agree, also because the “magic” of Christmas has always existed and despite the consumerism and the stereotypes, it continues to exist.
I am very fond of the ideas the Korean writer expressed in this TED talk. I play lead guitar and vocals in a rock cover band. Often I had to hear sly comments about it, referring to teenage behavior, to ungrown kids, to the uselessness of the whole thing – who will ever care about you guys? Well, the point is completely different. We do it for ourselves. Everyone should do it, go our and practice their own art. It is not necessary to make a job out of it. We are born artists. Kids do art spontaneously. Then we teach them to grow, they have to study, find a job, take up responsibilities. Art is for artists. But why? It would be healthy if we practiced some art side by side to our own duties. It would be good for our mind and soul. The ones who do it have less problems in carrying on with every day’s life. I speak by direct experience…
So I strongly advice you to go on and read Young-ha Kim’s own words, not mine, in this excerpt from his TED talk, or watch the whole video above.
“…For many people, the idea of a “garbage patch” conjures up images of an island of trash floating on the ocean. In reality, these patches are almost entirely made up of tiny bits of plastic, called microplastics. Microplastics can’t always be seen by the naked eye. Even satellite imagery doesn’t show a giant patch of garbage. The microplastics of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can simply make the water look like a cloudy soup. This soup is intermixed with larger items, such as fishing gear and shoes.”
The greatest stresses a human being is exposed to during life are thought to be: the loss of a loved one, marriage and divorce, a new job or being fired, a relocation, and the birth of a child. We all have to confront ourselves with most of them sooner or later, there is no way to avoid it, that’s life. I know someone who has never changed address since he was born (when he got married he moved to another floor in the same building); he divorced eventually but he kept living in the same flat. He had lost his father too early and had to get himself a job when he was very young. Maybe he never changed home and ended up with no children to spare himself some stress.
TED talks are illuminating. I appreciate most of them and unfortunately it is impossible to follow all of them. But I was drawn by the title “The power of introverts” by Susan Cain. She clarified the concept for me: there is a difference between being shy and being introvert. I already new that both are not the problem our society wants them to be. My favorite Italian pediatrician, a follower of Winnicot’s theories and a radicalist as the likes of Ivan Illich and William Godwin, makes a strong point about it: an introvert or shy kid will most certainly become a gentle person; the opposite is not that obvious.
Not many of us are lucky enough to be who they really are. The luckiest ones at least “know” who they really are even if they actually aren’t that. I’ve always admired people who made a life out of their passions. It takes a lot to achieve it, unless your passion is working for a bank or being a government employee: you study and work in order to get a job and you’re set. But what if you want to be, say, a painter? The entire world will tell you not to do it, you will be starving, you need at least a plan B. But the ones who keep on and succeed in doing this are the ones who did not listen…
This year I had the chance to celebrate the Thanksgiving with some American friends of mine. I am completely Italian and I still have many doubts about celebrating Halloween in our country or having a Black Friday here. But I am the same one who didn’t believe McDonald’s had a chance in the country of pizza and I am still dubious about any business for Starbucks here. But I was proved wrong, so I gladly enjoyed the thanksgiving dinner in Rome with some dear American friends.
When I was a child, people knew me as the kid who sang the songs also imitating the sounds of the instruments with his mouth. I remember how amused my uncles and aunts were as I covered some famous Italian melodies of the time. Unfortunately I was not exposed as a kid in the 60s/70s to the great music of those years. Rolling Stones, dei Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Doors, Pink Floyd, were there but no one suggested I listened to them.
It is quite incredible that in the age of Spotify and Apple Music a teenager has actually looked for and purchased a turntable off the Internet. Vinyl records sales have surpassed the CDs a while ago. Digital music does no longer need a physical support. Compressed formats have reached an almost accetable quality even to hifi geeks like me. Teenagers largely use their own phones to download or stream their preferred music and MP3 players are disappearing. Nonetheless people have continued to buy vinyl records at an increasing rate. What surprised me was that teenagers would do it, too!