At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I invariably find myself in a reflective mood every Thanksgiving.

I’ve offered a few of my holiday musings over the course of the past few years (grateful, too, for any and all who stop by to share...if only for a little while).

I find my mind drifting much farther afield this year. Witness:
(view in "full-screen" mode, volume cranked to "11")

Ah, what a long, strange and utterly miraculous trip it’s been! And I, this most improbable concatenation of stardust, infinity and song, revel in awe.

Am I grateful?

Beyond all words.

* * *

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Inner Geek

Those who know me know I’m addicted to matters scientific. Always was.

I’m particularly fascinated by quantum physics. No doubt, my fascination is fueled by the fact that “I don’t get it”. Quantum physics is the realm of higher mathematics. Now (pardon my hubris), I did well in math...simple math: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Fractions, too. I excelled in algebra, plane and solid geometry. I faltered a bit in trigonometry, but then met my match in advanced calculus.

My sojourns into the world of higher mathematics revealed it was a language all its own, a language incomprehensible to visual, tactile, aural types such as I. I find myself frustrated whenever I watch any program that tries to explain the mysteries of either the atom or the cosmos. I’d be following along all happy and awestruck until that inevitable moment when I realize I got lost somewhere along the way.

Quantum physicists communicate via equations and algorithms. They viscerally understand cosmic phenomena via numbers and symbols on a whiteboard. I can’t do that. I’m too awed by all that I observe. My awe does not equate to numbers. But there are Nobel Prize winners who aver: “My equation understands far more than I”.

Mathematicians and Physicists...gotta love ‘em. They’re a special breed.

It is the Mandelbulb that illustrates my dilemma. It is a physically rendered expression of a relatively simple fractal algorithm. I’ll never understand the mathematics, but the end result truly delights this mathematically-challenged soul.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Days of Reckoning

I’ve long pondered the disintegrations of the human soul I’ve witnessed in the workplace, among acquaintances and intimates.

Each story is unique, but there’s a commonality: the death of expectations.

It is no small matter to confront the knowledge that one is not to be what one had dreamed to be. To understand that one will never experience or hold whatever once was held so dear.

A redefinition of “self” is in order. That’s quite the challenge when the slate is no longer clean, when doors are barred, bridges burned...
and dreams have lost their luster.

There’s the awareness (either shabby or inspiring) that one’s life story will unfold along unanticipated plotlines.

* * *

He was my direct supervisor and I was still a young pup (career-wise). A talented man he was. Intelligent. Considerate. Yet, curiously disengaged. I didn’t understand him. His arsenal of abilities surpassed those of his superiors, but he seemingly lacked ambition. And the lack thereof was palpable to all.

I didn’t understand him, for I was young and I was driven.

I don’t remember how the conversation started, the particulars of the how’s and why’s. What I remember is this: He mentioned he had always wanted to be a veterinarian. That he had just embarked upon his studies when WWII began. That he left the university and took up arms and waded onto the beach at Anzio...and into the savagery that followed soon after. I remember asking why he didn’t return to his studies after the war? I remember his answer: “I couldn’t stand the sight of blood”.

I never forgot that conversation. Never forgot the man. I remember when he retired, having served at the lowest tier of management his entire career. I wished him well. And never saw him again.

But he had made an impression. He left me pondering for decades.
He fathered this post.

Methinks the specific expectations don’t matter. Only that they were held most dear. Methinks the average human life is a road trod upon broken dreams. Methinks there comes the inevitable day when the shards take their toll. When reality trumps and rationalizations can’t suffice.

I also happen to think that the way in which we negotiate these treacherous times, these storms of doubt, these darkest of dark days, the abject humiliation or utter despair...these days of reckoning...
come to define us.

* * *

We can face our failures, regrets and sorrows, with bitterness or dejection.

We can face them with a measure of humility, spirituality or grace.

No matter one’s circumstances in life...all I know is this:

there will be days of reckoning.

* * *

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