For our morning read, we opened our dog-eared copy of Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses at random and found this perfect, heartening hunk of philosophical cake, a perfect accompaniment to the great DVDP’s luminous gif:

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery. However, many of life’s large, captivating principles and small, captivating details we may explore, unpuzzle, and learn by heart, there will still be vast unknown realms to lure us.

If uncertainty is the essence of romance, there will always be enough uncertainty to make life sizzle and renew our sense of wonder. It bothers some people that no matter how passionately they may delve, the universe remains inscrutable. “For my part,” Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb, aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day.

Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between. 

Open this beauty of a book anywhere and it will expand your view of the world our senses take in at every moment, if only we stop to listen, taste, smell, see, feel, touch, celebrate…

natural history of the senses cover


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3 replies on “Diane Ackerman: “Live as Variously as Possible”

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