Douglas Adams may have changed how I think. That may, perhaps, have been his ideal job: re-conceptualizer of the world as we know it. He once described the internet (which he loved) as being like a room where doors could appear at any time and lead to anywhere. When he finally became a father -- and I feel that he was meant to be a father, though it took him a while to be in a position to become one -- he once described how his then-newborn daughter Polly fussed around, then settled down with a serene look on her face. As he put it, "She was rebooting!" A new metaphor that fit something we've done for a long time: Adams could come up with that.
That he could often make this funny was a bonus. That he could sometimes make this lovely was a gift. Read what he wrote about nature to really see that: Last Chance to See, about his experiences with endangered and threatened species, or "Riding The Rays," about his relatively close encounter with a manta ray:
There was a bay tucked round on the other side, called Manta Ray Bay, that was full, as you might expect, of manta rays: huge, graceful, underwater flying carpets, one of the most beautiful animals in the world.
Or this aside from the same article, which makes me smile:
[My wife] Jane, who is much better at reading guide books than me (I always read them on the way back to see what I missed, and it's often quite a shock) discovered something wonderful in the book she was reading. Did I know, she asked, that Brisbane was originally founded as a penal colony for convicts who committed new offences after they had arrived in Australia?
I spend a good half hour enjoying this single piece of information. It was wonderful. There we British sat, poor grey sodden creatures, huddling under our grey northern sky that seeped like a rancid dish cloth, busy sending those we wished to punish most severely to sit in bright sunlight on the coast of the Tasman sea at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef and maybe do some surfing too. No wonder the Australians have a particular kind of smile that they reserve exclusively for use on the British.
Today, in honor of Douglas Adams and his most famous creation The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, fans will carry towels. Adams had thoughtful thoughts about towels. He had thoughtful thoughts on many things, though he often took half of forever to get those thoughts into the books, computer games, scripts and more that he was paid to write. (He got so behind on the second Hitchhikers Guide radio series that he was sometimes writing a scene while voice actors were recording the scene immediately preceding.)
Thank you for being you, Douglas Adams. I wish you'd had a chance to be you for longer than you did.