I think time is the greatest luxury of all. I took this weekend and took off for Ocala National Forest. I loaded up my bike and spent the second half of Friday out riding the back roads, and today (Saturday) I am still out here riding and exploring. In the morning, I woke up as the sun was coming up, I re-started the fire, and then slowly got breakfast ready, and some coffee going. There is a luxury in taking the time to do these small routines with no rush. To sit in my comfortable chair (Thank you Kermit Chair Company!!) and just stare into the fire as I make my coffee feels like the greatest of rewards.
Later in my life, I will sail around the world by sea, and either ride, or peal, or walk around it again on land. That will be my retirement. Slow travel to see every continent. I anticipate many such slow mornings. Watching the sun rise slowly and savoring each moment.
Think about a place that you remember. A place that you would like to go see again. Right now that place is as real as the place you are currently in right now. It is vibrant and people are there, or the wind is rustling in the trees at this moment. The small little section of the world that you inhabit is only a temporary frame, and can be changed easily for another.
I have some places that I found enchanting, and interesting, and I often think about what is going on there right now. Are there other people absorbing the moment and the feel of the place like I did when I was there? Are they then years later thinking about that small place in the wide world?
No matter where you go, there you are, but that also means that where you aren’t, the world still is.
Life has marched onward in the 2 year interim between my last post and now. I won’t go into all the changes and struggles, but since I can not remain fixed while the currents of time rush forward; I must change with the times.
Travel, adventure, exploration. These are my goals.
My daughters are now old enough to begin to experience some of these things also; so I can take them with me and we can explore together. One of the things I am most grateful about my own childhood, is that I was able to travel and see things, and meet people. I didn’t live a small life even as a child, I lived in a number of places, and met new and interesting people. There was adventure to be had. I want to take my kids on those same kinds of adventures.
I recently read the biography of Albert Einstein by Walter Isaacson for the second time, Einstein has fascinated me ever since I went through a course on physics: his ideas captivated me then, and have stayed with me ever since. Einstein was more apt to use descriptions and visual imagery to show his ideas rather than just dumping his formulas bare and cold onto the world. He was a visual thinker and an amazing mind, someone who worked hard to solve problems but confronting them from many different angles, and worrying them to death until they gave up their secrets. He once said:
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
In the first 2/3rds of his life, he revolutionaized our concepts of time, gravity, and the very fabric of space and time. He was a simple patent examiner trying to knock Newton off his throne, and was at first ridiculed and ignored, then finally as fame and recognition came, he was lauded, and made into a reluctant public figure. He was unafraid to dabble in areas outside science where his opinions weren’t always welcomed, but over time many of his predictions and proclamations came true. Especially as WWI and WWII were brewing.
Einstein was a man of peace, he held radical pacifist views early in life, and though he was often accused of naiveté, he persisted in his desire to avoid military conflicts throughout his life. No doubt his views were heavily influenced by his experiences in Germany during the first World War, and the resignation of his professorship in the Prussian Academy as the Nazi Party took power in 1933.
When I first read the biography, I was interested most in the early part of his life, and the ideas that drove him to formulate his Special Theory Of Relativity, and the later the more broad General Theory, and his futile attempts to find a Universal Field Theory to unify the troubling randomness of Quantum Mechanics, and Relativity into one set of equations that could explain the sub-atomic level interactions of matter, all the way up to stars and whole galaxies. In the end Einstein never found his grand unifying theory, but equations found in the notebook beside his death bed show that he was still trying to figure it out right up to the end.
This time reading through the book though, I was most struck by his thoughts and ideas late in life, as the youthful fire of brilliance burned perhaps less hotly and mellowed down into great red burning coals of wisdom and pondering. Many of his more profound ideas don’t have anything specific to do with science at all, but with the condition of humanity. He was a pacifist, and yet his relationship with weaponry was complex: as he was instrumental in seeing that the US was the first to develop Atomic Weapons. This troubled him greatly in the ten years that he lived after the first atomic bomb was used against Japan in 1945. He wrote this explaining his motivations for the letter to Rosevelt, but throughout the rest of his life he was bothered by the idea that mankind now had the power to destroy itself. He said:
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Forget Me Not 1918
These pressed flowers were in a book I bought many years ago at a garage sale. I have kept the worm eaten book and these flowers for many years because they are special. I don’t know the story, I don’t know if this was a funeral bouquet for a fallen soldier, or an influenza victim, they may have been grown on the front and sent home to loved-ones, they may have nothing to do with the war: they might be a lovers bouquet, or just some flowers gathered in the springtime….
But I know that they have survived the years and were waiting for me to discover them. What years have passed into the dust of history, great men have risen through the ranks, to command despotic empires that have fallen crumbling into forgetfulness, and these small blooms have waited pressed between the mouldering leaves of a novel on a shelf.
Nations have risen in hope from the turmoil of revolution and then dissolved in chaos back again to rust and neglect, all while these little fragile spots of color waited for someone to notice them. What secrets could they tell us about the frailty of human lives and the short sharp pain of loss, if we would only listen? Someone picked these little springtime flowers and carefully tied them with string, and dated them. They pressed them between the pages of this book, and then time came swirling by and took all the meaning and memory away slowly and with gnawing blunt teeth.
No one knows now why they were picked and preserved, no one knows their story. What whispered lovers secrets were told in their presence? What fleeting kisses stolen on a secluded hillside awash with verdant springtime rainbows? These little flowers have a story to tell, but no lips to speak them with.
I will keep them so that they will outlive me, and their next discoverer can ponder the abyss of time also.
Sawgrass riptide, silicate crystals smeared across my toes,
the pressed down deepened holes in the burning white,
where I run down to the harder pressed darker expanse of shallow sea.
There are gulls on the edges vision, screeching, diving, salty spray of feathers,
darting, running, scattering sandpipers leave tiny scratches on the hard-packed sandy horizon.
crushed bits of shell, tossed up to my cool twisting toes by the urgent surf, a gift of shattered pearlescent debris.