My first thought when considering connections for a recent WordPress challenge was a John Muir quote.
‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe’.
There are a lot of places to take connections, to changing buses, trains or planes, or the links made between people or even how we intersect and coexist.
I was talking the other day about history and how often it is about finding patterns. There are seven billion people on this earth and some people say there are only seven stories that exist in fiction. To keep up the seven theme, I live at number 37, I have just turned 27 and I can’t think of another 7 for 17. Blast! Patterns exist. People are alarmingly similar and there are trends you can spot if you look hard enough. Some even use history to try to warn us off or scare us, particularly politicians. Whatever fits into a narrative, I suppose.
Sometimes we are very bad at finding connections. I seem to find it easier than many people. My conversational mode, like my writing style, is tangential. I like to pack a lot into what I do because I’m not always sure about whether I will remember it in a few minutes if I’m writing or talking or because I simply want to see as much as possible by day’s end. It’s like an hourglass, there’s only so much time. Since I don’t always spot the right moments in conversation, I try to find that moment and link to whatever has just been talked about before making my point. It’s about being relevant.
‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe’. This quote was written by John Muir and published in a book called My First Summer in the Sierra. It was published in 1911 though based on events in 1868. There are so many connections to be made. The quote is in a video in John Muir’s Birthplace in Dunbar. I used to work there and I grew up in Dunbar. Let’s take Dunbar. Another person who grew up there was Robert Wilson, who invented the screw propeller. Wilson could take you to Harold Wilson, who was a Labour Prime Minister in the 1960s and 1970s, then to either Gordon Brown, the last Labour Prime Minister or even to Theresa May, the Prime Minister now. Gordon Brown was born in Kirkcaldy, where Adam Smith was born. Our local Chinese takeaway delivery guy often wears a hoodie advertising the Adam Smith Business School at Glasgow Uni, which takes it back to me since the guy is invariably handing me food and I grew up in Dunbar. Plus I live in Glasgow, where the Uni is. Fun for all the family. To take another example, My First Summer was last published in Britain by Canongate, who also publish the works of Barack Obama, who is currently the President of the United States. One of his predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt, went camping in Yosemite with John Muir who wrote My First Summer in the Sierra. 1911 is a harder one and needs a bit more thought or research. 1911 was when My First Summer was published. It was set in California, where Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor. One of his predecessors was Ronald Reagan, who was born in…1911. Sorted.
There are connections between most things, between our thoughts and actions, our organs, nerves and extremities, and much else besides, from how the weather affects bees which affects crops and plants growing which affects the food supply and in turn us. It’s hard to see the links between the various parts of the world, animal, mineral, plant, physical, metaphysical, just as they can’t always be explained either. That’s not always a bad thing, as curiosity helps us see links between what we know and what we don’t, to form new ideas and reshape old ones.