Fresh Air File
depressed by the Evening News, and election campaigns, and various
other negative influences prevalent in modern society, I decided to
start a Fresh-Air file - little illustrations of benevolence,
kindness, rationality and human decency ... things to lift your
spirits, rather than depress them. Here it is for you.
in a Day’s Work
February 1906, Roald Amundsen, travelling north through central
Alaska, one day saw a dark, solitary speck on the distant snow. It
moved toward him. An hour later, the gap closed, and he met a man
named Darrell, who was hauling a small toboggan by hand. Darrell
worked for the Hudson's Bay Company, and he was carrying mail. He
had come from the Arctic Ocean and had crossed the mountains alone,
because an unusually heavy snowfall on the North Slope was too deep
could not believe my eyes," Amundsen wrote. "Here was a
man, hundreds of miles from the nearest human being, with not a soul
to aid him in case of illness or accident, cheerfully trudging
through the Arctic winter across an unblazed wilderness, and
thinking nothing at all of his exploit.
I was lost in admiration.
I stood looking after him as he disappeared from view, and I
thought, if you got together a few more men of his stamp, you could
get to the moon."
must do something"
will always solve more
"Something must be done."
Voyager Project Manager Ray Heacock says with an impish grin, that
they made an error in timing: the Voyager made the ring plane
crossing 49 seconds earlier than expected.
Everyone laughs. The
bird has been in transit for THREE YEARS and the biggest
miscalculation is 49 seconds.
smile with pride at my lovely species.
We ain't so dumb after all.
The next time somebody tells me "It can't be done",
I will tell them “ANYTHING can be done!”
that we take for granted began with
somebody dreaming of something that couldn't be done.
is an Adventure
should men struggle to reach Everest and the Poles and the far
places of the Earth? For the excitement of the body that is
adventure, the more enduring excitement of the mind that is
discovery, and the spiritual uplift that results from our racial
self-assertion. We have dragged ourselves up from the mud and the slime and
the damp cave in the menacing night where we huddled together,
listening to the prowling beasts beyond the flickering fire.
Over the centuries we have devised, invented, created,
improved, and now our footsteps will stand in the dust of the Moon
difference between what we do
and what we could do
would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.
of my critics is a pesky naysayer. He just hollers "No!"
and shouts "Never!" and rants, "It can't be
done!" and yells "Impossible!"
have composed this little response to him and am circulating it
around so that other folks can use it when they encounter similar
jerks. Here it is:
I know you! We've met
before. It was near a small town in North Carolina in the winter of
1903. I was busting my
butt pushing winged bicycles up and down the beach while you were
sitting on the fence yelling derisively, It'll never get off the
ground! It'll never get off the ground!
Today, I have a picture on the wall above my desk: the image
of Neil Armstrong's footprint. What have you got?”
am limited in my work strictly by the problems I can't solve,
not by the problems you can't solve.
have probably seen, as I have from time to time, a bumper sticker
reading "He who dies with the most toys wins."
I never did believe that at all.
you are lying on your death bed, with your toes turning cold, your
fingers all numb, and feeling the chill of the Grim Reaper creeping
inexorably through your veins - of what significance are a fancy
house, a big yacht, an expensive car?
that you really possess at this moment are the contents of your
mind: your memories of what you are and what you have done with your
life. Toys are
who dies with the best memories wins."
Among the best memories I will experience at that moment are
those of the sparkling eyes and effervescent self-expressive
vitality of kittens.
impossible it is to hold sunshine in your arms,
but how warm and good the sunshine makes you feel when you try.
Touch of Tolkien
his editors complained that he had used the wrong plural for
"dwarf" (the 1928 Oxford English Dictionary preferring
"dwarfs"), who but Tolkien could have replied, "Yes,
I have changed my mind since I wrote the dictionary"?
all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands,
those are my care.
And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task,
though Gondor should perish,
if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair
or bear fruit and flower again in days to come.
Gandalf (J. R. Tolkien)
The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers
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