Samuel Butler: Life is Like a Violin Solo

"Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on."

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) was an English author and satirist best known for writing novels like Erewhon and for completing prose translations of the Homeric epics that are still in use today. Although he was nearly ordained into the Anglican clergy early in life, Butler is remembered for his critical examinations of religious orthodoxy and admiration for the work of Charles Darwin. He is not to be confused with a different Samuel Butler who wrote poetry and satire in England 200 years prior.

"Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on." 

One of the beautiful things about aphorisms such as this one is how they cleverly touch on the universal axioms of the human experience. No doubt we've all felt at times like we were just making things up as we went. Yet Butler's words simmer with touch of hope. We may play poorly from time to time, but we're destined to get better the more we learn.

(h/t Wikiquote)

The 4 types of thinking talents: Analytic, procedural, relational and innovative

Understanding thinking talents in yourself and others can build strong teams and help avoid burnout.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to collaborate within a team and identify "thinking talent" surpluses – and shortages.
  • Angie McArthur teaches intelligent collaboration for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Do you have a self-actualized personality? Maslow revisited

Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.

Personal Growth

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.

Keep reading Show less

Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth

"I was so moved when I saw the cells stir," said 90-year-old study co-author Akira Iritani. "I'd been hoping for this for 20 years."

Yamagata et al.
Surprising Science
  • The team managed to stimulate nucleus-like structures to perform some biological processes, but not cell division.
  • Unless better technology and DNA samples emerge in the future, it's unlikely that scientists will be able to clone a woolly mammoth.
  • Still, studying the DNA of woolly mammoths provides valuable insights into the genetic adaptations that allowed them to survive in unique environments.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less