I was introduced to Bill Bryson by my daughter when she brought home “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” from her school library. It was/is probably the most hilarious memoir I have read. I have since bought and gone on to read quite a few of his other books, each one as good, or even better, than the last. From ‘A Walk in the Woods’, ‘Neither Here Nor There’, ‘Down Under’, ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ and ‘Notes From A Big Country’ to ‘Notes From A Small Island’, which I am currently reading, Bryson’s particular brand of irreverent-but-at-the-same-time-serious writing/humour has had me in splits for many an hour.
Since I’ve not updated my blog for quite a few months, I thought I might as well share a few lines from the latest Bryson I am reading. These are lines from ‘Notes From A Small Island’ which, in 2003, in conjunction with World Book Day, was chosen by voters in UK as the book that best sums up British identity and the state of the nation. The lines I am sharing have nothing to do with the main subject of the book, which is an account of his trip around Britain and his hilarious observations of the British people, their habits and their idiosyncrasies. It made me wish there was someone like him amongst us Mizos who could write about our own sometimes self-centred, self-righteous, sanctimonious society in his typical irreverent manner.
As I said, these lines have nothing to do with the subject of the book and, in fact, came in abruptly in the midst of his description of life in rural Britain. A sort of philosophical rambling, seemingly unrelated to the subject, but somehow blending into the narration. But I digress. So here goes:
The way I see it, there are three reasons never to be unhappy.
First, you were born. This in itself is a remarkable achievement. Did you know that each time your father ejaculated (and frankly he did it a lot) he produced roughly twenty-five million spermatozoa –enough to repopulate Britain every two days or so? For you to have been born, not only did you have to be among the few batches of sperm that had even a theoretical chance of prospering – in itself quite a long shot – but you then had to win a race against 24,999,999 or so other wriggling contenders, all rushing to swim the English Channel of your mother’s vagina in order to be the first ashore at the fertile egg of Boulogne, as it were. Being born was easily the most remarkable achievement of your whole life. And think: you could just as easily have been a flatworm.
Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you were not. Soon you will cease to be once more. That you are able to sit right now in this never-to-be-repeated moment, reading this book, eating bon-bons, dreaming about hot sex with that scrumptious person from accounts, speculatively sniffing your armpits, doing whatever you are doing – just existing – is really wondrous beyond belief.
Third, you have plenty to eat, you live in a time of peace and ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree’ will never be number one again.
How can you not love this guy 🙂