Pippa’s Song

The year’s at the spring
       And day’s at the morn;
       Morning’s at seven;
       The hillside’s dew-pearled;
       The lark’s on the wing;
       The snail’s on the thorn:
       God’s in His heaven—
       All’s right with the world!
—Robert Browning, “Pippa’s Song” from his verse play “Pippa Passes”

Robert Browning‘s long poem, “Pippa Passes,” published in 1841, is a verse drama, which means it was not written with the intention of any person staging a performance of it, and life ever since has fulfilled that lack of intention. The poem-as-play has not been performed by any notable theater company in more than a century. “Pippa Passes” is remembered for two things. Well, three things.

For one, it is remembered for not being remembered, for not living on in culture’s memory at all, even though at the time critics were quick to count it among Browning’s masterworks. Also, it is remembered because Browning accidentally used a vulgarity in it because he thought the slang word he used referred to a part of a nun’s habit. This was pointed out to him in his lifetime, and even though he made emendations in 1849 and 1863, he chose not to correct the one glaring one, and insisted that if he did not know it was a vulgarity, how was it a vulgarity?

Last, one line from it, a single line, lives on to this day as an expression we might hear more than once every day: “God’s in His heaven/All’s right with the world.” Young Pippa sings it.

(Shall I discuss the vulgarity below the fold?)
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How to Be a Successful Success

A Bronze level “Jim Rohn 1-Year Success Plan” is $179, a Silver is $299, and a Gold is $499. A subscription to Success Magazine, a Jim Rohn publication, is about $35 for a year. Who was Jim Rohn?

Rohn was one of a long line of American entrepreneurs who sold plans and strategies for success and achievement and leadership in one’s field, whatever that may be. If you are a fan of Tony Robbins, you are a fan of Jim Rohn by extension. According to Robbins, Rohn was one of his mentors, and he got his start selling plans like the ones cited above. (I am agnostic on the topic of self-betterment entrepreneurs, but I am a believer in the grace and beauty of getting to know oneself, which is something that all successfulness sellers sell.)

Rohn died in 2009 at age 79 and left behind a self-improvement business empire. He also left us with many quotes, such as, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” And, “Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom.” And, “Don’t join an easy crowd. You won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform and achieve are high.” And, “Success is what you attract by the person you become.” And last, “The ultimate expression of life is not a paycheck. The ultimate expression of life is not a Mercedes. The ultimate expression of life is not a million dollars or a bank account or a home. The ultimate expression of life is living a good life.” (Apparently Rohn was a big believer in the rule of three.)
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‘Day by day’: Rare Disease Day 2015

“Day-by-day, hand-in-hand.” Today, February 28, is International Rare Disease Day, and “Day by day, hand in hand” is this year’s slogan. As slogans go, “#TheDress” might have received more attention today, but tomorrow the world will not remember this week’s Twitter trends and millions of people will still be living day by day with rare diseases.

Rare Disease Day was first established in 2008 by EURODIS, the European Rare Disease Organization. In 2009, the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) in the United States joined the effort to educate the public. This year’s theme is “Living with a Rare Disease.” Some rare diseases are life-shortening, and even kill in infancy. All of them are life-altering.

Once upon a time, rare diseases were called “orphan diseases,” and, really, neither term alone quite conveys the concept. One rare disease may affect only a few individuals, making it something that is rarely seen; diseases and conditions that affect just a few people are sometimes viewed as research dead ends, “orphans” in drug and treatment research. The medical industry wants to aid the greatest number of people, and research money is hard to win for research into a condition that affects only a few thousand individuals.

Rare is not so rare, however. There are about 6000 rare diseases that are officially recognized as such; since each one affects (by definition) fewer than but up to 200,000 people per condition, some researchers estimate that 300 million people around the globe have a rare disease. That is about one in 25 people on the planet.

If you visit a restaurant tonight or go see a movie, a couple of us with a rare disease are hanging out with you. Hello.
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