From nowhere we came, into nowhere we go. What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night.

~ Attributed to Crowfoot

Help the Captain get his spaceship!

Mithril Angel Wings

Teasing out History

Spent some time earlier looking for good firefly quotes. As much of a cult hit as Firefly is, it’s rather hard to find quotes about the lightning bugs as opposed to the Whedon show. One quote did keep cropping up that I liked though, from an Indian chief:

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.”

– Chief Crowfoot, Blackfoot Indian Chief

It showed up in any number of quote compilation pages across the net (Google the first two sentences and you get over 13,000 results).

One page, however, had a suprisingly different attribution:

A little while and I will be gone from among you, whither I cannot tell. From nowhere we came, into nowhere we go.What is Life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is a breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

-Haggard, Sir (Henry) Rider
Dying words of the  African chief Umbopa in King Solomon’s Mines.  John Peter Turner in The North-West Mounted Police (1950) credited them to Crowfoot (c.1830^1890), chief of the Blackfoot Indians, who died in his teepee overlooking the Bow River,  Alberta, 25  Apr1890, and this attribution gained popular acceptance.

African chief Umbopa? What the heck? Continue reading Teasing out History

Did the cow creamer tell you that?

In other news, I bought a cow creamer. Pier 1 cow creamer

My delight will make more sense to people familiar with Wonderfalls, one of those great shows that Fox axed too soon. In a nutshell, the protagonist Jaye gets dragged into helping people in unexpected ways when inanimate animal objects begin telling her to. One such is of course the cow creamer, which her brother Aaron sees her arguing with and pinpoints as a source of her odd behavior, leading to wonderful non sequiturs like the following…

Aaron (in the midst of an existential crisis over whether there is a higher power): I was fine when existence had no meaning. Meaninglessness in a universe that had no meaning – that i get. But… meaninglessness, in a universe that has meaning…. what does it mean?
Jaye: It doesn’t mean anything.
Aaron: Did the cow creamer tell you that?

I’ve never stumbled across one quite like the one in Wonderfalls, but fun finding a ceramic one nonetheless.

Cow creamer from the TV show Wonderfalls, being examined with some trepidation by her psychiatrist

20 Something

“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Maybe this will just be a memory list of all the articles and quotes I’ve found interesting. I quite enjoyed the NYT Magazine article by Robin Marantz Henig on What Is It About 20 Somethings?, it hit on a lot of themes I recognize in myself or my peers including instability, exploration, and postponing the trappings of adulthood (or perhaps just not feeling the need to be very grown up). It describes the 20s as a “churning” period of shifting jobs, housing, and putting off or rearranging the milestones that traditionally defined adulthood – “completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child.” It could very well be a privilege of being privileged but I know plenty of people who have shuffled those milestones around or have no desire to hit some of them at all.

The article explores psychology professor Jeffrey Jenson Arnett’s view of this period as its own life stage, “emerging adulthood”:

Just as adolescence has its particular psychological profile, Arnett says, so does emerging adulthood: identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a rather poetic characteristic he calls “a sense of possibilities.” A few of these, especially identity exploration, are part of adolescence too, but they take on new depth and urgency in the 20s. The stakes are higher when people are approaching the age when options tend to close off and lifelong commitments must be made […]

DURING THE PERIOD he calls emerging adulthood, Arnett says that young men and women are more self-focused than at any other time of life, less certain about the future and yet also more optimistic, no matter what their economic background. This is where the “sense of possibilities” comes in, he says; they have not yet tempered their idealistic visions of what awaits […] Ask them if they agree with the statement “I am very sure that someday I will get to where I want to be in life,” and 96 percent of them will say yes. But despite elements that are exciting, even exhilarating, about being this age, there is a downside, too: dread, frustration, uncertainty, a sense of not quite understanding the rules of the game.

Whose game, whose rules, and what do you win for playing?

When I was first out of school and trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I wrote a former teacher of mine about how I felt like I needed to immediately choose and embark on an interesting and fulfilling career, which was a shame since I didn’t know what I wanted to do, where I wanted live, or any of those basic starting blocks. Part of me wants to cave, I told him, say screw the expectations and get a job folding t-shirts at the mall. “I don’t know whether this will help or not,” he replied, “but I feel that most of life is spent searching for one’s place in the world and wanting to break out of expectations.  The former will eventually happen if you keep the search alive and the latter is not a bad thing to break out of in life.”

I get the feeling sometimes that the point of the game is what each of us make it out to be, and the best we can hope is that the values we set are satisfying to ourselves.


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~ Anais Nin