I do nothing but sit and read at present. I think I have three books and a collection of poetry going simultaneously. This morning I was reading The Medusa and the Snail by Lewis Thomas, who writes sparkling short essays of tremendous humanity, inspired by his work in biology. This excerpt is from "The Youngest and Brightest Thing Around."
"...I believe fervently in our species and have no patience with the current fashion of running down the human being as a useful part of nature. On the contrary, we are a spectacular, splendid manifestation of life. We have language and can build metaphors as skillfully and precisely as ribosomes make proteins. We have affection. We have genes for usefulness, and usefulness is about as close to a "common goal" for all of nature as I can guess at. And finally, and perhaps best of all, we have music. Any species capable of producing, at this earliest, juvenile stage of its development - almost instantly after emerging on the earth by any evolutionary standard - the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, cannot be all bad. We ought to be able to feel more secure for our future, with Julian of Norwich at our elbow: "But all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." For our times of guilt we have Montaigne to turn to: "If it did not seem crazy to talk to oneself, there is not a day when I would not be heard growling at myself, 'Confounded fool.'"
...We are by all odds the most persistently and obsessively social of all species, more dependent on each other than the famous social insects, and really, when you look at us, infinitely more imaginative and deft at social living. We are good at this; it is the way we have built all our cultures and the literature of our civilizations. We have high expectations and set high standards for our social behavior, and when we fail at it and endanger the species - as we have done several times in this century - the strongest words we can find to condemn ourselves and our behavior are the telling words "inhuman" and "inhumane."