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Senior Correspondent

When author Matt Haig was personally "living in a state of intense but irrational fear," he conceived of a story in the year 2000 about an alien who voluntarily becomes a human and lives as happily-ever-after as an alien turned human can. It makes for a thoughtful, sometimes humorous book entitled, "The Humans" finally published in 2013 after the author became famous through four other books. It caught my eye because I am in the process of creating a friendship between an alien and a human in the new book I'm writing.

I loved the way the story evolved through twists and turns and never quite predictable events. Haig presented an alien's down to earth view of humans and their foibles. He develops an appreciation of human relationships through a series of strange events. Multi-dimensional humans and the complications of the human condition intrigue the main character beyond his ability to remain an alien.

He leaves a list of "Advice for a Human" for a mixed-up teen that could have been his son. He summarizes succinctly, but deeply, sage advice worth every human's consideration. Number 6 is "Be Curious. Question everything. A present fact is just a future fiction." In number 9, he wisely points out, "Sometimes, to be yourself you will have to forget yourself and become something else. Your character is not a fixed thing. You will sometimes have to move to keep up with it."

With his alien's wisdom, he says, "You shouldn't have been born. Your existence is as close to impossible as can be. To dismiss the impossible is to dismiss yourself." And, from his personal experience, he says, "One life-form's gold is another life-form's tin can." His knowledge of the future says, "New technology, on Earth, just means something you will laugh at in five years. Value the stuff you won't laugh at in five years. Like love. Or a good poem. Or a song. Or the sky."

With pithy wit, he points out, "If there is a sunset, stop and look at it. Knowledge is finite. Wonder is infinite." With the certainty of knowing humans as only an alien can, he points out, "You are not the most intelligent creature in the universe. You are not even the most intelligent creature on your planet. The tonal language in the song of the humpback whale displays more complexity than the entire works of Shakespeare. It is not a competition. Well, it is. But don't worry about it."

With the power of seeing the future, he predicts, "One day humans will live on Mars. But nothing there will be more exciting than a single overcast morning on Earth." And, "In a thousand years, if humans survive that long, everything you know will have been disproved. And replaced by even bigger myths."

As an author, I love the paradox he explains in number 46 — "The things you don't need to live — books, art, cinema, wine, and so on — are the things you need to live." His perceptive advice in number 66 says "As a black hole forms, it creates an immense gamma-ray burst, blinding whole galaxies with light and destroying millions of worlds. You could disappear at any second. This one. Or this one. Or this one. Make sure, as often as possible, you are doing something you'd be happy to die doing."

If I had to pick only one, I particularly like, "Men are not from Mars. Women are not from Venus. Do not fall for categories. Everyone is everything. Every ingredient inside a star is inside you, and every personality that ever existed competes in the theater of your mind for the main role."

Matt Haig makes you glad you are human.

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