Science is a Journey

All scientific inquiry begins with a question. How is this possible? Why is that planet behaving that way? How old is that thing? What is that made of? How do we catch the flu? Once you have a question, you can set about determining an answer. That’s science, and in my opinion, it’s a thing of beauty.

What frustrates me most about people who disparage science is that they tend to say, “Well, science used to believe this. But now we know that’s wrong.”

Uh… YEAH. That’s the whole point. You add to science as you increase knowledge and extend your inquiries. Surprise! Blood letting isn’t the best idea for the feverish! The earth isn’t flat after all!

Science, by its very nature, is not rigid and set in stone. It’s a journey, not a destination. It grows. It (dare I say it?) evolves.

The reason science and religion seem at odds with each other, in my opinion, is that religion doesn’t want you to question. It wants you to believe without question. It doesn’t want you to change, other than to get with the program. It says, “These are the rules. Stick to them.” It believes that the way we thought 2,000 years ago is the way we should think now.

Science is messy. It says, “Hold on… what about this?” It’s ever-changing. It’s fluid. That’s a scary concept for some, but I firmly believe that learning and growth make us better people.

This may surprise you, but I genuinely believe that science and religion don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are questions that will never be answered in our lifetime. If religion helps you with the great unanswered, then more power to you. And if you believe in God, surely you must believe that he or she gave us curious brains so that we could use them.

I am so grateful for both the gifts of intelligence and morality. I will never squander those gifts. (Not that morality is exclusive to religion, mind you. But sometimes it is nice to have a guidebook, even if we don’t always consult it.)

I am very excited by the prospect of knowing more tomorrow than I do today. I look forward to applying that knowledge in a way that benefits mankind. Life is good!

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll love this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Drabble

I learned a new word recently. Drabble. According to wikipedia, “A drabble is a short work of fiction of around one hundred words in length. The purpose of the drabble is brevity, testing the author’s ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in a confined space.”

To this I say, challenge accepted! And I soon discovered that once I started to drabble, I couldn’t stop. (Yes, I’m officially turning this word into a verb.) I like it so much, this may become a regular thing in my blog.

So, without further ado, here are my first 4 drabbles. Feel free to drabble in the comments section! (Or just comment. That works, too.)

On the Brink

I stand at the edge of the cliff, taking in the view. It’s comforting to feeI small by comparison. Nature, man. Who can top it? It embraces me, cradles me in its loving arms. I’m a tiny part of a much larger whole.

Awe is such a heady feeling. Just breathing it in. Just being. I’m renewed.

How can people look upon this beauty and still jump? How profound does your level of despair have to be before the tears in your eyes make you blind to this miracle, this splendor? Maybe, just maybe, some people think they can fly.

 

Cheese

I truly believe that there are few things in life that aren’t greatly improved by extra cheese. I could guzzle a cup of melted cheese, tilt my head back and pour it down my throat, with no regrets except for the lack of free refills. It couldn’t be less healthy than a slurpee or a shake, and it would be infinitely more satisfying. But I’ve always been more savory than sweet.

There’s nothing like looking forward to mozzarella after a particularly hard day. Who needs drugs or alcohol? Give me cheddar or feta, and all my cares slip away.

 

Pathetic

“You’re so loved it’s pathetic,” he said. And deep down, I knew he was right. I have amazing family and friends. They lift me up. They carry me forward. They bear witness. They buffer me from life’s tempests.

As isolated as I often am, I’m never truly alone. Knowing that sustains me. It makes all this possible. All this abundance. All this beauty. I’m really rich in the only ways that matter. Life is such a gift when it’s filled with the lives of others.

“You’re so loved it’s pathetic,” he said.

And yet he still left me.

Dumb ass.

 

Going Home

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. At least that’s the current wisdom. And I tend to agree. Usually.

But not when I’m trapped in an airport on Thanksgiving day, imagining the turkey getting cold and gossip getting hot. Not when I’m paying too much at Starbucks when I’d much rather have my sister’s apple pie. Not when they’ve lost my luggage and my rental car reservation and I feel my throat getting sore, and there’s no wifi and my book isn’t in my carry on.

I’m grumpy and tired. Screw the journey. I just want to go home, please.

autocorrect

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

The Journey

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey, they say. I sometimes have a hard time remembering that. As a general rule, I hate the “travel” part of travel.

I particularly miss flying in the ’80’s, when you could saunter onto your plane at the last minute, with your Crocodile Dundee-sized Bowie knife and nail clippers on full display, settle into a seat with plenty of leg room, most likely having the entire row of seats to yourself, and expect something other than a single pretzel to eat. These days, I just want to get there, preferably with all my luggage, and let the adventure begin.

On my most recent trip, to Utah, a lot of irritating things happened during the journey. I booked a ziplining tour, something that has been on my bucket list for decades, and I was really looking forward to it. I went to Sundance Mountain Resort and wandered about, feeling like a country mouse as I often do in rich places. I had time to kill, so I bought an outrageously overpriced but delicious meal and ate while reading a book.

I got to the ziplining office at the designated time, all excited, only to be told that it was cancelled due to high winds. They had been trying to contact me for hours. (Why does everyone assume you’ve got a smart phone with e-mail access? Pick up the phone!!!)

Terribly disappointed, I headed to my shabby little motel room in Provo, Utah. (I did stop to see Bridal Veil Falls on the way, which was pretty awesome, but took all of 5 minutes.) I wouldn’t have been stopping in Provo at all were it not for the ziplining. If there’s anything entertaining to do in that town, I certainly didn’t find it.

So I sat in my threadbare accommodations, listening to the really loud construction next door, until 9 pm, when they quit for the day and I was finally allowed to get to sleep. (But to do that I had to turn the fridge off to stop it’s squealing. When the fridge finally thawed at midnight, the sound of the falling ice scared the life out of me.)

Back to sleep. That is, until the police raid in the motel room directly beneath mine at 1 a.m. Lots of shouting and door pounding. That was fun. Not.

So was the car alarm that went off at 3 a.m. and didn’t stop until the battery died. I was beginning to think someone was sticking pins in a little Barb voodoo doll or something.

But, as my previous posts about this trip will attest, the rest of the trip was amazing. And even when you’re having a bad time in Utah, you have fantastic views as a backdrop. So here are some random photos I took during the journey.

 

Portable gratitude. Inspiring pictures. Claim your copy of my first collection of favorite posts! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Revisiting My Relocation

Back in August, 2014, I moved from Florida to Seattle. This was a huge leap for me as I didn’t know a soul out here, and had never even been to Washington state, let alone to this city. All I knew was that I desperately needed a do over, and the opportunity presented itself, so I took it.

Yesterday I had a chance to revisit my epic journey across the continent because I’m going back and reviewing my old blog entries to determine which ones would make good anthologies. I don’t know where I found the energy, but I blogged during the entire trip, from Florida to Georgia to Kentucky to Missouri to South Dakota to Montana to Washington. 3100 miles, just me and my dogs and a lot of time to think.

At the time I was both excited and scared to death. Now, looking back at it from the other side, I don’t think I realized how brave I was being, and how totally insane the whole situation was.

I also look at the things I worried about and have to smile. I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to dress for cold weather. I didn’t even own any long sleeved shirts. And I was in a panic about driving in snow, but I’ve only experienced one day of it in the two winters I’ve been here.

And it amazes me the things it didn’t even occur to me to worry about. I seem to have underestimated how hard it would be to make friends and find romance. I think on some level I just assumed I’d pick up my life where it had left off. I had no idea the amount of isolation I was about to subject myself to. Had I known I might not have had the guts to do it.

Do I regret my decision? Not at all. In fact, I wish the current me could go back and tell the 2014 me that all my obstacles would be surmounted (well, except for the romance one), and in fact, it would be the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I remember savoring every moment of that adventure, and I’m so glad I had the presence of mind to write about it, because that means I can take that voyage again any time I want. The trip remains the same. It’s the traveler who is constantly evolving.

a 1 a 10

Road Tripping

I just got back from a trip to Vancouver. I’ll be writing quite a bit about that, I’m sure. But right now I’m writing about road trips in general.

I absolutely love to travel. It’s my reason for being. Seeing things I’ve never seen and doing things I’ve never done just seems to feed my spirit in a way that nothing else can. Just having an adventure to look forward to brightens my mood.

I love to read up on my destination and make plans and compile packing lists. I love to pore over maps and dive headlong into guidebooks. I’d hate to go to someplace unprepared, only to find out upon returning home that there was something amazing there that I had missed. The buildup to a vacation is almost as interesting as the trip itself.

And then you have the actual trip. The driving there. The worrying that your luggage will be lost, or you’ll leave something behind, or you’ll take a wrong turn, or maybe that you won’t understand the rules of the road in another country. It’s the anxiety of reservations misplaced, tickets lost, identification overly scrutinized. It’s agonizing to worry about being late or missing a connection. I hate to think of all my plans falling to ruin. I hate the travel part of travel.

I probably miss out on a lot of the beauty that is in the in-between places due to all that anxiety. It has been forever thus with me. There’s just too much to contemplate about the destination to focus on the journey. I really need to work on that.

Ah, but when I get there? Pure bliss. Let the adventure begin!

[Image credit: pinterest.com]
[Image credit: pinterest.com]

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When you are young, people ask you that question all the time. Unfortunately that gives you the impression that someday you will actually know the answer. Poppycock. Most of us never do. That’s the great secret that no one tells you.

Maybe that’s best, because how can you face the world if you realize that you’ll never reach your goal because you haven’t a clue what that goal is? I envy those who find a calling and successfully pursue it. But they are the exceptions.

As a child, my stock response to that question was always, “I want to be a teacher, because then I can yell at all the kids.” That always got a laugh. I like making people laugh. I never really wanted to be a teacher. I don’t even like children. Good thing I had the sense to never have any.

While it’s good to make plans and work toward something, the fact is that most of us kind of stumble into our lives by accident. The question I like to ask adults is, “Did you ever think that this is what you would be when you grew up?” I’ve never had anyone answer that in the affirmative. Not even once.

So perhaps the road to happiness isn’t pursuing your dreams but rather learning to find joy in the present moment. Don’t focus on the destination, but rather revel in the journey. That way your dreams will come true every second of every day.

I-Dont-Want-To-Grow-Up

[Image credit: iwantcovers.com]

My Jacksonville to Seattle Odyssey—Part 1

My departure from Jacksonville was a strange one indeed. The night before, after having a lovely dinner with one of my dearest friends in the world, I came home and started loading a bunch of last minute stuff in the car. I thought I had closed the door to the house behind me. I really did. But when I looked up it was open and my dogs were nowhere to be found.

I spent the next hour walking the neighborhood in tears, hollering their names. Of course I went to the extreme. What if I couldn’t find them by morning and I had to drive away without them? But then just like that they wandered up to me, looking very perplexed that I was blubbering on the street.

We got back to the house and I guess about two months of accumulated stress and anxiety decided to come out all at once and I just fell to pieces, and finally went to bed utterly drained.

The next morning I packed all the last minute stuff and did all the last minute cleaning, and another dear friend stopped by bearing Krispy Kreme doughnuts. This used to be a strictly Southern thing, so I didn’t have the heart to tell him they have them in Seattle, too. But it was good to see him. He was sick as a dog, and had dragged his wretched self out of bed just to say goodbye one last time. That’s a true friend.

When he left I told him I loved him and he said he loved me too. He said, “You are going to have an amazing life.” I got tears in my eyes.

It’s funny. All my friends seem to fall into two extreme camps. Those who can say I love you back, and those who get uncomfortable by the whole concept and can only respond with a smart aleck retort. (You know who you are.) The thing is, I know they love me. They show me in so many ways. But it would be nice to be told. Ah well.

Anyway, after he left, me and the dogs hit the road. It felt kind of abrupt. After a month of long, drawn out preparations and hurdles and arrangements and stress and anxiety, suddenly, BAM! We were on our way. Just like that.

And as I drove out of Jacksonville, my home for 30 years, I felt oddly indifferent. First of all, there is no “You are now leaving Jacksonville, please come again” sign on the interstate, so I didn’t have a definite dividing line. Second, it’s the people who make the place, and I had been saying good bye to the people for weeks. So the geographical change didn’t have the impact I was expecting.

But I did observe a tradition I always observe when crossing my home state line. I take a deep breath and I blow all my worries and cares and problems over my shoulder. I leave them in Florida. And this time, I also symbolically blew away my bad habits and grudges and things I’d like to get past as well. (Floridians may want to wear a gas mask for about a week, because it could take a while for all that stuff to dissipate.) Crossing into Georgia, I felt rather cleansed. Lighter.

In Georgia I stopped for gas, and a rather rough looking motorcycle gang pulled in behind me. I’ve never had a problem with bikers. They don’t bother me, I don’t bother them. But this time I took my dogs out of the car and was walking them on a patch of grass, and one of the scariest looking guys comes up and says, “Oooh! Can I pet your puppies? Are they friendly?” And we had a nice long chat about his 10 Chihuahuas and about Seattle. As he walked away, awash in tattoos and leather, he wished me a safe journey. It’s funny the people you meet when you travel. (That’s also a reminder about not judging books by their covers.)

So the first leg of my journey was a short one. 245 miles. I’m now safely ensconced at my sister’s house. I wish all the legs were going to be this short. Next stop, Paducah, Kentucky!

Check out Part 2 here!

Perry

The clock tower near my sister’s house.

[Image credit: panoramio.com]

 

Traveling in my Mind

Since travel is my reason for being, and since I can no longer afford to do so, I’m forced to content myself by reliving trips I have taken in the past, and imagining where I would go if my fate were different and my choices hadn’t been so ill advised. So, without further ado, here’s a poem I have written about one of the journeys I’ve taken in my mind. Be gentle. I haven’t written a poem in decades. In fact, I’ve never felt so vulnerable about a blog entry. Maybe that’s why I’m posting it on April Fool’s Day–if the general consensus is that this poem is unbearably cheesy and horrible, I can tell everyone it was just a joke.

Traveling in my Mind

I sit upon the Spanish Steps,

observing tourists

as they ebb and flow,

fueled by gelato, sticky hands,

and photos we’ve already seen.

Italian heat and aching feet,

and dusty souvenirs galore.

The surface merely gently scratched.

 

But I wish to delve deeper still,

live secrets that no tourist knows.

Through boredom and routine

to go the paths of every man.

To have “the usual” each day,

and know the postman by first name.

Hear gossip, scandal, local myth,

and revel when their guards’ let down.

 

I give myself this gift of time,

for steady observation’s sake.

This tedium and ennui apace,

peel back the cloak and must expose,

a life mere tourists cannot see,

and don’t suspect or even heed.

What treasures lost!

But not to me.

spanish