The Genius in the Bottle

Reading blogs galore, psycholanalysing the personalities behind the writing, seeing the education (formal and informal), imagining the lifelong social connections (both good and bad) and then returning here.

A few days ago I received my first senior discount at a restaurant, getting a whole meal for $4.99 at Buddy’s BBQ in Lenoir City, Tennessee, USA, thanks to the assistant manager, Jackie Moore.

I was a senior in secondary school in 1980, a senior at university in 2001 and finally, a senior in life in 2012.

I have graduated.

I retired from the office/travel work life in 2007.

What is next?

YAWN!

A global society full of literate writers and savvy readers.

Crows have left the front yard.  Now some small birds, their shadows blocking the Sun as they cross the window pane, search in earnest for morsels.

Bits.  Nibbles.  Bytes.  Atoms.  Molecules.  Complex carbohydrates.

On the days when I’m only here as a switchboard operator to connect geniuses with their viable markets by hyperlinking them together, what do I do with the bottles after the geniuses are released into our world?

Does the number of syllables matter in counting one’s capabilities?

Must a medical doctor mumble jargon to feel worthy of the diploma on a wall?

Must a chemist talk in chemical terminology to be understood?

Despite my senior status, I’m still that ten-year old boy whose girlfriend of three years just died of a blood disease the boy doesn’t know how to spell or pronounce because he heard it only once or twice in the midst of his sorrow.

I’ll always be that boy, but now his innocence is lost, he has many scars, he’s seen and experienced happenings of immense displeasure and disappointment about our species’ behaviour toward itself and its place in the universe.

He’s still a boy, jumping up out of chairs, flailing on the dance floor, hiking in the woods, turning over rocks to see what creepy-crawlies are hiding in the shade or tunneling into the cool, moist dirt underneath.

Adulthood has always been boring to him, people simply older, pretending to be wiser, taking charge of large groups of people as if they have special powers or capabilities or simply desire to lead.

The boy doesn’t see himself in the mirror like he used to.  There’s a white-haired, middle-aged man staring back at him now, youthfulness a memory, not a fact.

Sure, he could pay a cosmetic surgeon to create a false sense of security in turning back time by stretching skin or implanting prosthetics but the boy knows better than to feed the vanity of lost youth.

He is sad and happy at the same time.

Sad that his girlfriend never got to see life after age 10, sad that he didn’t get to see her reach maturity and become whatever she wanted and/or felt obligated to be.

Happy that she still exists in his memory, her parents long gone, her friends moving on and having kids of their own and some whose kids now have kids the same age as a ten-year young girl who died of something like leukemia.

Now that the boy is a senior in body if not completely in his thoughts, what’s next?

What’s left to discover that he hasn’t seen in one form or another all over again for the very first time?

He has no social obligations and just barely a sense of social responsibility.

He knows that if he thinks these thoughts and writes these words, billions of people have thought these words and many have written them, too, in thousands, if not billions, of symbolic forms.

He knows some will read these words and form their own interpretations, looking forward or looking backward along their thought trails, naturally comparing their lives to the one imagined here.

The boy looks at his email inbox and wonders why someone wants to sell penis enhancement drugs or the opportunity to become an anonymous ghost writer for someone else.

These aren’t the signposts of life the boy expected to see 40 years ago.

If these are the images his society wants to hold up to him as some sort of macabre mirror reflecting Life Writ Large, then the boy took a wrong turn somewhere.

What happened to his playground mates?  Why do we all look like we’re 50 years old or older (except those of us who’ve paid for body modification procedures or those who’ve lived relatively healthy lives that have slowed the aging process by comparison)?

This boy who wanders the world in wonder, adrift in thought, letting whatever synaptic/neuronic connections make their electrochemical pathways circulate through a central nervous system made from part of a set of states of energy, sees many of the influences upon his molecular makeup so he shouldn’t be surprised that he influences others, even if he doesn’t want people to follow his happenchance lifestyle, such as it is, has been or will be.

He is a child of the universe who stopped caring about himself at age 10, letting the adults around him tell him what he’s supposed to do so the boy could hide himself in a virtual shell, far from the pain of change of life without his constant school companion — his 10-year young girlfriend — a pain that turned to numbness and eventually ennui.

Just like everybody else, he assumes.

Time to shut down this blog and move on to the next one, a cowboy rolling up his gear and hitting the lonely trail once again, hidden in plain sight, kindly thanking the people who stopped by while he was here…

Candle Wax

The issue then becomes one of explaining to the full range of age groups and belief subsets how every data point, although unique, is made of the same ingredients as the set in total.

“But if we are all the same, how are we all different?”

Well, you see, we are all connected.

“But my subculture is diametrically opposed to yours.  We do not feel connected.”

Emotionally opposed, yes, and thus connected by emotions.

“We would never participate in any of your activities.”

And, therefore, we complement each other, one performing the tasks the other would not.

“It makes no sense.”

Observe the candle.  The wick is not the same as the wax.  However, both react to fire, one feeding off the other, giving light as a heat byproduct.

“Or heat as a light byproduct.”

Precisely.  It is the observation point from which one finds one’s place of understanding.  ‘Who am I?’ becomes ‘I am the collection of states of energy that detects heat and light.’

“Or hot wax.”

Or carbon with which to record symbols that represent your subculture.  You are the stuff of stars.

“I don’t know…  My elders say I am a gift from God.”

Stars.  God.  I am telling you they are the same.

“We do not practice pagan religions.  Stars are not living beings.  Only God can create people.”

Religion I do not know.  I only know states of energy, atoms, molecules and the like.  And their connectedness.  The teachings of your elders are your guide to follow freely as you wish.

“So why am I sitting here with you?”

And I ask myself the same question.  Why do two states of energy such as ourselves choose to interact using sound shaped by our vocal chords and other movements of our states of energy we call bodies?  It is what it is.  Questioning it prolongs the next moment of discovery between us, adding to the wonder of the universe that is us, our states of energy, in momentary synchronisation.

“Are you not wise, then, as they told me you are?”

I am wiser than the trees, they say, and yet I cannot sprout a single leaf.  This hair upon my arm cannot convert sunlight into energy yet, like bark, it provides a modicum of warmth against a winter’s cold.  Wisdom is application of one’s knowledge of one’s ignorance.  What I do not know tells me more about what you and I will say next to each other more than what I know says about what we can say to each other.

“So you can’t tell me if I should eat this bowl of ice cream, Great Uncle?”

A container of frozen cow’s milk and other ingredients… Does it taste good to you?

“My tongue says it does.”

Your tongue is not a separate object.  It is you as much as these words we have left behind.  Including the rest of you, not just your tongue, does the ice cream taste good to you?

“I don’t know.  I’ve never thought about it.”

Precisely.  Look at the object you call a bowl.  Look at the object you call a spoon.  Look at the object you call ice cream.  They are connected, their function and form, their origin and destiny, all one.  In reality, they are not separate objects.  Imagine they and you are all part of the same universe, created, as you say, as a gift from God.  Is the place where the cow came from, how it was raised, how it was milked, how its milk was sanitised and mixed with special ingredients to make ice cream, and how the spoon and bowl came into being also a gift from God?

“Of course.”

Then tell me without putting the ice cream in your mouth, does the ice cream taste good to you?

“Wow!  Uh… that seems like a lot to think about just to decide if I should eat the ice cream.”

But don’t you already have an idea what the ice cream will taste like?  Don’t you already think the ice cream tastes good?

“Yes.”

Then, in the space before you smell the ice cream with your ‘nose’ or place the ice cream on your ‘tongue,’ in that moment when you cannot stop the ice cream from hitting your ‘taste buds,’ I tell you the ice cream will taste like motor oil and burn like hot lava, can your thoughts switch to disliking the ice cream?

“Yes.”

Are you sure.  This moment I describe takes place faster than the speed of light, an imperceptible split second before your thoughts can travel from one neuron to the next.

“Then I guess not.”

Your life is made up of all those imperceptible split seconds.

“Which means…”

Taste is a deception.

“Which means…’

All the imperceptible moments up to now have already determined whether you’re going to eat the ice cream within that bowl, which, by the way, has melted quite a bit since we first started talking.

“And I hate warm ice cream!”

There you go.  You have your answer.