On this day in 1952 English writer Douglas Adams was born. His extraordinary imagination and inventiveness reached its apex in the radio series The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which he said began when he was lying drunk on a Swiss mountainside one night with a guide book in his pocket.
He was also a campaigner for saving threatened animal species and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in a rhino outfit to raise money.
His ability to take an idea and make something humorous of it has seldom been surpassed.
He died suddenly in California of a heart attack in 2001, aged 49. Somehow I always think of Adams when I read The Cloud by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Here are the last two verses:
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-coloured bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove,
While the moist Earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.
Today I will try to be a giver rather than a taker: I will practice giving kindness, consideration and compassion to others.