Thursday, July 23, 2015

And That Makes Us the Lucky Ones

I'm a sucker for a rich-sounding radio voice and I'm also a sucker for eloquent writing and people who speak with a certain poetic flair. 

The other day I was driving and listening to the radio. The show, which I missed the beginning of, was talking about the power of the written word. They were talking about the author and scientist Richard Dawkins. 

I have read and thoroughly enjoyed several of his books but not the one they were talking about. It's called Unweaving the Rainbow and they read his opening paragraph to illustrate the power of great writing. 

By the time they had finished the paragraph, I was on Amazon downloading the book and I have been savouring it ever since. 

His opening paragraph went like this: 

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”

Read it. 

Read it again. 

Read it out loud. 

Savour the words and how they roll off your tongue. 

Savour the message. 

And take an extra second or two to think about just how right he is. 

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