You may know from a previous posting of John’s called “Survival Break” that I enjoy reading science fiction from time to time. It’s funny how diversions sometimes take you right back to the world you were seeking to escape. However, the benefits gained are often instruction, renewed zeal, and fresh perspective.
Over the River and Through the Woods is a collection of science fiction short stories by Clifford D. Simak. The stories have what I might call a classic science fiction flavor. Simak wrote for decades and was an excellent storyteller. He died twenty years ago, so he and his writings perhaps reflect a different era, or at least a different attitude.
The last story of the book is “The Grotto of the Dancing Deer,” featuring the exploits of a scientist who finds some extraordinary paintings in a hidden pocket of a European cave. Clues there lead him to discover that a Basque gentleman he encounters is 22,000 years old. When he asks the man how he has survived so long, the man gives him a fascinating list. See if you don’t agree that these principles are food for thought and even wise counsel.
The Basque’s principles for survival include the following: Keep a low profile. Don’t stand out. Attract no attention to yourself. Cultivate a cowardly attitude. Take no risks. Never volunteer. Skulk, run, and hide. Become thick skinned. Don’t care what others think of you. Shed loyalty to tribe or country. Don’t be patriotic. Be an observer. Believe you’re living in the only logical way one can live.