To be kind, to play: to be human

The bad news is that I continue to spend altogether too damn much time in my own head, but the good news is feels more like quality time.

Will be heading out shortly for a long-overdue haircut, but am finding myself compelled to jot down a few thoughts, so I do believe that I will run with that feeling. Since my daily writing duties for Tonic.com by themselves satisfy my urge to put thought to word, I have done precious little personal blogging. It’s not so much out of neglect or indifference, but more due to time and the simple fact that I’m mostly getting my need to write met in full, thank you ever so much.

But the lights are blinking this morning, and I’m opting to indulge myself in some extracurricular musing on what it means to be human.

While science news is my beat, I’m always on the lookout for items, articles and topics that engage interests that may not appear by quick glance at the surfaces to be overtly scientific. The arts, and music in particular, serve prime example. A couple of months ago I offered a piece that briefly discussed research into the matter of monkey drumming. Yes, monkey drumming. The findings indicate that our simian chums use rhythmic patterns quite deliberately, with purpose, for communication. The underlying suggestion is that behaviors that form the basis of what we now call music could very well be even older than our capacity for the spoken word.

As I write two pieces per day, six days a week, lather, rinse, repeat, it’s easy to forget what I’ve covered as the ongoing run of tomorrows offers up fresh news items and all manner of interesting stuff to review. I’d honestly forgotten all about my drumming monkeys until following a link to an outfit in the UK that was included on a recent post on Nick Heyward’s wonderful website. Nordoff Robbins. Music transforming lives. Absolutely wonderful. Of *course* music, and its therapeutic potential, should be used to enrich lives–the drive to express via music, to give and to absorb meaning,  is every bit as encoded in our DNA as is the drive to communicate through speech.

Add to this a couple of other shops whose stock in trade is the exploration of higher aspects of the human condition. There’s the National Institute for Play in Carmel and the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley (and can I just say how amazing it is to live in California where such institutions are even possible?).

NIFP characterizes play as anything but frivolous: it’s an evolutionary birthright that rises from and feeds back into our big, rich, juicy brains as well as out of the fact that we are singularly social creatures. And the GGSC has only recently crossed my radar screen (and, yes, I wrote about those folks as well), impressing me greatly with their reclamation of the inaccurate and unfortunately perverted take on Darwin (i.e. ‘survival of the fittest’) that has long held sway. We are, they are finding and reporting, evolutionarily and genetically predisposed for kindness.

It’s a big, bustling world. It is easy to react based on a perception of lack, or to give in to fear or greed. And, really, some people are just plain dicks. Still, I am, this morning, having a lovely time just chewing on this assemblage of aspects of the human condition that are irretrievably higher and better and more noble, and they reside within each of us, should we make the choice to call upon them as we move about out lives.

Posted via email from dmboisterous

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