details and destinies

Do you enjoy your life? Are you looking forward to tomorrow? How much time do you spend thinking about the past? How often do you try to integrate the possibilities you may have had in the past, with the future you find yourself in right now?

One of my all-time favorite novels is Les Miserables. My love for that work is, in large part, due to its treatment of destiny. Victor Hugo states that destinies can hinge on trivial details, such as whether someone is sitting or standing in a given moment. That’s a powerful thought.

I think that most people look back into their pasts and use the really big events to figure out how they got to wherever they are. Generally, I think that is a very narrow and counter-productive perspective. One’s true path to the present is more than likely comprised primarily of details.

That’s not just an idealistic postulation – it’s a mathematically grounded claim. The truth is, most people remember very little of their life. Thousand of moments are forgotten for every one remembered. You can no more interpret your present life with your sparse memories, than you could guess the content of an interesting jigsaw puzzle with a handful of pieces.

Let me tell you what you need to do if you want any hope at all of explaining your life even ten years down the road… You need to remember more of the details. Focus on all those trivialities of your life that you have heretofore neglected to even notice.

Stare into your steeping cup of tea and make yourself remember the way that the color disperses into the hot water. Listen to your orange juice cascading from its jug into your glass. Capture in your mind the weight of the next fork that you chance to use or the smell of your toothpaste. Never forget the way a loved one hugs you when you walk into their home. Seize the details of your life, because they are what comprise your life.

I think you will notice, if you pay more attention to those otherwise lost moments, that Victor Hugo was indeed correct, though possibly not strictly in the sense that he intended. Those details very well may change your life. At the very least, regarding them will enrich your life. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Your future lies before you, unknown to you.

Whether a man notices or neglects the details of his life—destinies hang upon such a thing as that.

2013 – (unnecessary) New Year

I want you to read this slowly: I’ve never met myself.

I can not pin me down. I have pictures, writings, even memories of some self I do not know as well as one thinks that one ought to know one’s self. Every instant that passes marks a change, a departure, from some former mind bound by familial relationships to others, and a social security number. It’s difficult to describe without sounding a bit odd, but that’s because it is odd.

It’s odd, in my mind, because it flies in the face of laws, contracts, obligations, accountability, and continuity. I have spent years thinking about my own identity, and have decided that identity itself, therefor any identity, is not continuous. Identity is constantly evolving, sometimes it rewrites itself identically bit for bit, but other times, probably just as often, it overwrites itself in new and novel ways.

You are not the same now as you were even thirty seconds ago. Your mental state and your molecular state have changed. Your mind and your body have changed.

That’s what’s on my (!) mind for the new year. And the implications of that idea make New Year’s Day basically worthless. New Year’s resolutions and projections are misguided – the hoopla surrounding the New Year itself is utterly misleading. The notion that, for some reason – today– the continuity of your life and your self are to be reflected upon falls quite short of the reality.

You see, today is not special as far as you are concerned. You will be long gone an instant from now, much less a day from now. You can make whatever plans you want for your future self, but that self shall do as it pleases, with the same volition that you have in this moment.

Of course, that isn’t entirely true, now is it? You can force a future self into submission under your current will with the help of unalterable (or not easily alterable) choices. The morality of that seems dubious in my mind, but that is a thought for some other day.

The point is this: you can reinvent yourself in every instant, at any time. In fact, you only exist a moment at a time. You would be better off spending today realizing that, than focusing on this once-a-year “opportunity” for self-modification.

Of course, those are just my thoughts on the matter. And, well, I’ve already left…

1/4 done with life

So, there goes another year. I’ve arrived at my twenty-fifth year of existence now, and in my optimistic mind this means that I’m about a quarter done with this procession called life. Seventy-five years seems like an awfully long time to continue wandering about, doesn’t it? That is, after all, mostly what I’ve been doing thus far – wandering. Wandering and wondering. Wandering through the present and wondering about the future. Once again, the future has met me here at the present – and left me to wonder about when we’ll meet next.

Well, now, where is the substance? Of what do I wonder… and where do I wander? Yes, I shall tend to all of that directly.

The past year I’ve spent mostly in the Midwestern Unites States. When I’m “home” I find myself surrounded by poultry, a cow, and a cat on a plot of twenty acres. On said plot, there is a farm house that is perpetually subject to renovations. It’s not fancy, but it is spacious and deeply comfortable (aside from when the box-elder bugs swarm the area). Its the embodiment of a relaxed existence. All the creatures that surround me are constant reminders that life is fundamentally about staving off hunger and taking naps. I wonder how long I’ll be able to enjoy it there.

I’ve spent most of my “vacation” time this past year with my Grandparents on both sides of the family tree.  You see, Grandparents are wonderful – they allow you to look into the past and the future all at the same time. At once you see what awaits you in fifty years and hear stories of life fifty years ago. I enjoy my Grandparents immensely, and I often wonder how much time I have left to spend with them.

Most of my wandering about the USA is undeniably in an attempt to accumulate wealth. I wonder when I shall decide that I have enough and stop wandering quite so often.

The more I wander about this world of humans, the more I wonder just how I ended up here anyway. I wonder about how I shall depart from this place. I wonder at right now. I wonder at life.

Here’s to seventy-five more years of wonder.