Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Musings of an idle mind

I'm currently in Philadephia on a layover. On the plane flight here, I was reading "Coming of Age in the Milky Way" by Timothy Ferris. I'm truly enjoying the book. It's definitely one of the best books I've read in a while, explaining our current understanding of the universe by telling the historical story of how we came to this understanding. This approach really resonates with me, and it all makes so much more sense when explained this way.

For me, at least, there is a real benefit to taking a little time off of one's life and thinking about things. It amazes me that at 37 I'm still trying to make sense out of life, just as I was as a teenager. In the intervening years, I think the only thing I've really figured out is that life is relative. Just as Einstein blew away the static universe of Newtonian physics with the idea that everything in the universe is relative to the point of reference you choose to observe it, I think that the meaning of life depends greatly on how you choose to view it.

They key point here being that you can choose your view point. If you choose to view your life as a unique collection of experiences, then life becomes all about going and doing things. If it seems really important to reach an understanding of things, then life becomes all about education and intense study of the world around you. If life is short and then you die, then you turn to drink, of course.

Very few of us choose any single point of reference, but try to strike some sort of balance of the things that are important to us. (Perhaps "greatness" is acheived by a very purpose driven life, pursuing things doggedly from a single point of reference.) I know I am constanting rolling things over in my head trying to decide exactly what it is that I want, so I can actually go about doing that.

But "real life" intercedes and you get so busy living your life that you don't have time to ponder such things. Just maintaining the life you've put together so far takes up so much time. There is a house and cars to take care of, as well as children who need love, attention, and guidance. There's the necessary career to pursue, both to fulfil some sense of professional purpose and to fund everything else. Then there are the other commitments in life, some of which you find yourself amazed that you volunteered for.

What I find is that the more that "real life" dominates my time, the more confused and frustrated I get about things. I feel like I am no longer in control of my life, forced into patterns established by decisions I made long ago, either consciously or not. That's why a little time away to organize my thoughts and feelings is so important. I can take a moment off, choose an external frame of reference, and make sense of my life. Hopefully that means I can later return to it with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication.

It now occurs to me that this is a long rambling chain of consciousness that probably only makes sense to me. I should probably take the time to to go back over it, edit it, and rework it into a nice, readable little discourse of the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. But, that would take more time than I have, and if I wait to do that, it will never get done. Maybe I need to accept a little less "perfection" in my life, and work with what I have available to me. So, here we go, it gets posted as is.


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