Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Philosophical pudding...a mixture of musings that could possibly end in a point, or could drift off quite aimlessly into the abyss.
But seriously, down to business. Have you ever had the feeling that something was almost fated to happen? Everything falls into place, you have no way to try and not let it happen...it's like the whole universe is set on making this thing happen. And it's almost as if you have little choice in the matter. Other elements in the universe have decided for you.
Yeah, I know. Sounds really hokey, and very off-in-left-field. Not usually my style. But I mentioned before that I'm going out of town this weekend. I tried to get out of it, thinking I should spend a weekend at home. I emailed my friend to ask if I could come a different time. No. The person I'm visiting wrote back and said possibly the one thing that would make me change my mind and decide to go.
Heh. I'm going.
[For the record, I am really excited about going. And I'm glad the universe has decided to push me there. Haha.]
But that's not all. The weather (as we all are much too aware of) has been less than dry for the past week and a half. And the weather leading up to my visit is all rain, the weather after my visit is all rain. But the days I'm there? Sunny with a few clouds. Very pleasant days. Weird, right?
This visit also comes out of hearing from a friend (i.e. the person I'm visiting this weekend) I knew back when I was in college and had sort of lost touch with. I'd see him when I visited home, but that's different. And randomly, I got this email from him...and now I'm going out to the middle of nowhere in upstate NY to visit.
It just all seems a little odd when you put it all together. And it makes me wonder, if the universe is so bent on making this happen, is something huge and life-changing going to happen while I'm there? Let's be serious, the universe isn't usually interested enough in the lives of mere individual souls to push all of the pieces together to make something happen on its own, right? So, I have to wonder...
And now for something completely different...
...but semi-related, I guess.
About 2 years ago, right when I moved to Boston, a friend and I had this discussion/argument going about whether time has always existed and is merely a discovery made by man or rather an invention of the human race to make better order of its surroundings. It was a very interesting discussion. He and I would take a side (usually opposing, although there were the rare times when we agreed) and argue it, but ultimately come to a point where we convinced ourselves that the other side of the argument was correct, then reassess and dive in to argue again. It was quite the cycle. And I don't think that either of us has truly decided what we think the answer is.
To that point, then, I found a quote the other day that I found quite relevant to this old discussion topic, and now it's got my mind churning up about the whole question again: is time a discovery or an invention?
This quote I found is by Jok Church:
The measurement of time is a human invention.
It exists only because humans agree on the ways time is measured...seconds, minutes, days.
When we change from daylight to standard time,
it's only because we agree on it.
But time itself doesn't need a clock or us.
Time flows measured or unmeasured.
It flows with or without us.
In a nutshell, old Jok is saying that the measurement of time is man's invention, but time itself is man's discovery. Time has always existed, it's just that we humans needed a way to order it in our minds, a way to understand it on our terms.
What's funny is that this idea never occurred to either my friend or me. We even went so far as to define "time" so we were on the same page. But the word "time" can mean both "time itself" and the "measurement" of time. So really, the question seems simpler if you make that distinction.
I love this...I feel suddenly like a door has been closed on an old hole from the past. Unfinished business has just called its final day.
Summing up...(or drifting away...?)
I feel very philosophical lately. I quote song lyrics on my Gmail chat account when I hear something that makes my brain start cranking its gears. I email quotes to myself that make me think about things differently. And I'm doing something this weekend that it seems I had little to do with in terms of making the event happen.
But think about the last line of that Jok Church quote: "[Time] flows with or without us." It's so true. Humans, being the sentient creatures that we are, tend to fall into the trap of thinking we have some sort of ownership of this world, our Earth. Our lives run through Earth's everyday existence, we change things, we move things around, we manipulate our surroundings to our own liking. But in the end, we're but a whisper of a moment in the Earth's life. A small spot that will eventually, one day, fade away again. We have no control over the movements of time, the ordered chaos of the universe. It exists with or without us.
One of my favorite sayings is: "Life goes on and the world's still turning." I use it when something crummy happens that I'm not too enthused about or when something doesn't quite go my way. I say it to remind myself (and perhaps others involved) that if I take a step back, it really doesn't make all that much difference. On an earthly scale, it's meaningless. Equated to the difference between 1001 and 1002 when you're out on the infinite plane. There is no difference. It's insignificant. We move on.
And I've recently been coming to the realization that this idea is really a central part of my personal philosophy. At the end of the day, the human era on Earth is just another occurrence in this planet's vast, infinite life. Now, that's not to say that our lives mean nothing. That we have nothing to live for. Quite the contrary. We make our own lives exactly what we want them to be. I love my life. And it's interesting feeling to know that I am, on an infinite plane, completely insignificant, and yet, on my own plane I live to be as significant as I can be. To make my mark on the world and the people around me.
I'm reminded of this most especially when times like my visit this weekend happen...when I feel I have little control over what's going on. That I my actions have little effect on what's actually going to happen in this specific event. The difference between an ant blowing on a piece of lint (it goes nowhere) and me blowing on said piece of lint (it whips off in a swirl of air from the force of my breath upon it).
How's that for a way to start someone's personal identity crisis...feeding one the question of "why am I here?" It's certainly one of my favorite questions, along with it's sister question: "what is the meaning of life?" Because, as I ask myself what the answer could possibly be, I sometimes stop to chuckle at the absurdity of the question when viewed from the perspective of Earth or the universe. On those scales, does it even matter? Not really. But it fascinates me. And what draws me to this question even more is that it fascinates the entire human race. We all yearn to know why we're here. And we all answer it for ourselves in different ways. Religion, art, philosophy. In the end, it won't matter what our individual answers are, it won't matter if we all agreed on one answer.
So why ask it?
We're here now, aren't we? And with the little section of time that we're allotted in this infinite span of time, we certainly have to do something with ourselves. Why not do something that makes us happy? You want my opinion? The goal of life, the meaning we all seek, is happiness. That's what our actions inevitably come down to. Think about the decisions we make. We make them in pursuit our personal definition of happiness. That's our purpose. That's our "meaning." That's our "reason for existence." Happiness.
You know, the Peanuts gang hit it right on the proverbial nose in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The final number has the whole cast singing about what happiness is to each of them. Happiness is what we all strive for. What we feel most comfortable and safe with. What calms our wandering souls and gives us a sense of peace. Happiness is as simple as "finding a pencil, pizza with sausage, climbing a tree" or even "tying your shoe for the very first time." (Really, if you haven't heard this song, or at least read the lyrics, you should do so. It's very soothing.) Happiness sums it all up.
[Of course, I could be wrong. Who really knows? But, the way I see it, better to create a meaning for our insignificant existence that evokes pleasant, feel-good emotions rather than harsh, bitter, or worse, unmotivated and disengaged emotions, right?]
-One Tough Cookie