In 336 B.C., a brash 20-year-old prince visited the Greek city-state of Corinth. During his stay, the prince visited the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, one of the founders of the Cynic philosophy.
The philosopher was quite a controversial character, infamous for his open criticism of Plato and his rather shocking lifestyle; he begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar, or pithos, near the gymnasium in Corinth.
The young prince decided to meet this eccentric character. He found the philosopher lying in the sun. The prince addressed him and asked if he wanted anything at all from him, to which Diogenes replied, “Yes, I just want you not to stand in the sun.”
The young prince was so impressed by the philosopher’s nonchalant demeanor that he stated, “But truly, if I were not Alexander, I wish I were Diogenes.”
Two years later, now a king in his own right, Alexander set out to conquer his way to the edge of the known world.
During the following decade, nothing stopped him. Nothing. Vastly superior armies, impregnable fortresses, mountains and rivers and deserts, hunger, thirst, the sea itself, the uttermost extremes of physical hardship and war. His body was littered with scars; everywhere that is, except his back. He never retreated, and he never lost a battle.
Some five hundred years ago, a 26 year old sculptor was given the task of turning a leftover slab of marble into a work of art. Other artists had tried to give life to the stone and had failed, but the young artist took on the contract, determined to shape the marble that others had discarded.
Early in the morning on September 13, 1501, the young artist began to work in order to extract his vision from the piece of stone. He carved and carved until he set his dream free.
Later, artist Giorgio Vasari would describe the process as, “bringing back to life of one who was dead.”
One of the most famous stories in Homer’s Odyssey is that of Ulysses encountering the sirens.
Upon his return home from the Trojan war, Ulysses stumbles upon the sirens – magical creatures of the sea, whose singing bewitches sailors and lures them to their deaths.
Ulysses, aware of the deadly nature of the their hypnotizing voices, instructs his men to plug their ears with beeswax and to tie him to the ship’s mast. As the ship approached the siren’s island, Ulysses becomes enchanted by their singing. He commands that his crew untie him, but his men, their ears full of beeswax, ignore the desperate please of their captain, rowing the boat to safety.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite how the story goes…
On the 14th of February 1990, just as the Voyager 1 probe was leaving the Solar System, some 3.7 billion miles away from Earth, Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn it around to snap a photograph of our home.
The resulting photograph showed the Earth as a pale blue dot, less than a pixel in size. A speck of dust in a seemingly infinite universe…
When we think of the word fun, we think frivolous acts of non-work. However, I would venture to say that fun does equal productive work. Fun is worthy of our time. Fun is drawing us into our very own creativity, and we will produce our purpose and share this joy with others as much as we possibly can. Psychological studies have proven the productive value of fun.