After all, we were young. We were fourteen and fifteen, scornful of childhood, remote from the world of stern and ludicrous adults. We were bored, we were restless, we longed to be seized by any whim or passion and follow it to the farthest reaches of our natures. We wanted to live – to die – to burst into flame – to be transformed into angels or explosions. Only the mundane offended us, as if we secretly feared it was our destiny. By late afternoon our muscles ached, our eyelids grew heavy with obscure desires. And so we dreamed and did nothing, for what was there to do, played ping-pong and went to the beach, loafed in backyards, slept late into the morning – and always we craved adventures so extreme we could never imagine them. In the long dusks of summer we walked the suburban streets through scents of maple and cut grass, waiting for something to happen.
― Steven Millhauser, Dangerous Laughter
The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.
― Norman Rockwell
I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
As I go off into the big black abyss of my future, I have to admit that I am terrified and also a bit insecure in my decisions. But, I also realize that anyone who has ever gone off into uncharted waters must have felt similar to the way I feel now, which gives me a small ounce of comfort. I don’t know how to do what I am doing, I have no way of knowing if this is the right way or not. But I guess I’ll never know until I get there. So, this is me, being a pioneer.
It often feels like a tremendous amount of work is required to get an idea moving forward, like pushing a train uphill. But at a certain point, the thing takes on its own momentum, and takes unexpected turns. So it’s that feeling of holding on, rather than pushing it, that is the most exciting thing. It’s that need to occasionally bounce off the walls, letting anything happen for any reason, and having nothing to guide you that is the joy.
“Oh, here we are at the bridge. I’m going to shut my eyes tight. I’m always afraid going over bridges. I can’t help imagining that perhaps, just as we get to the middle, they’ll crumple up like a jackknife and nip us. So I shut my eyes. But I always have to open them for all when I think we’re getting near the middle. Because, you see, if the bridge did crumple up I’d want to see it crumple. What a jolly rumble it makes! I always like the rumble part of it. Isn’t it splendid there are so many things to like in this world?”
“I declare it’s marked out just like a large chessboard!” Alice said at last. “There ought to be some men moving about somewhere–and so there are!” she added in a tone of delight, and her heart began to beat quick with excitement as she went on. “It’s a great huge game of chess that’s being played–all over the world–if this is the world at all, you know. Oh, what fun it is!”
―Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
And the mist of snow, as he had foreseen, was still on it – a ghost of snow falling in the bright sunlight, softly and steadily floating and turning and pausing, soundlessly meeting the snow that covered, as with a transparent mirage, the bare bright cobbles. He loved it – he stood still and loved it. Its beauty was paralyzing – beyond all words, all experience, all dream. No fairy-story he had ever read could be compared with it – none had ever given him this extraordinary combination of ethereal loveliness with a something else, unnameable, which was just faintly and deliciously terrifying.
Robots are important also. If I don my pure-scientist hat, I would say just send robots; I’ll stay down here and get the data. But nobody’s ever given a parade for a robot. Nobody’s ever named a high school after a robot. So when I don my public-educator hat, I have to recognize the elements of exploration that excite people. It’s not only the discoveries and the beautiful photos that come down from the heavens; it’s the vicarious participation in discovery itself.
― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier