Today’s Independence Day. To celebrate our freedom, I’ve been planning to write a piece about self-determination, celebrating the power we each hold as individuals in the United States and encouraging people to embrace this power–to take charge of their lives, and more importantly, to take charge of their country.
But self-determination is a privilege of the modern world, and the freedom we have today came at cost far greater than any one of us could ever imagine–certainly far greater than even I could conceive.
I was walking across campus–I leave for Alaska in 36 hours, and with advising, doctor’s appointments, and laundry to do, I know precisely where all my time must go–when I was approached by a woman handing out flyers for an event tonight.
“Have you heard about the Sexperiment?” she asked.
This morning I spent two hours proving (-1)a = -a. I tell my friends I finally figured it out and they stare at me a moment, narrow their eyes a bit, and say, “But isn’t it obvious?”
That’s the problem. It is obvious. We’ve been raised in a culture wherein elementary math education is spewed to the masses–but it’s all given in bits and bytes of data, none of which is strewn together with any understanding of the processes at work beneath them.
That’s why it took me so long to solve the problem–I kept getting stuck on claims of “This is obvious” and had to turn back to step one–to the rules that govern real numbers, the foundation upon which the world was built.
But figuring it out wasn’t the most amazing thing to happen today.
In another universe I am not the one writing this. In another universe I am still who I am, but wholly different–the personification of another facet of myself. In another universe I am the same man but different, a secondary, tertiary–an nth degree version of myself wholly unknown yet wholly undifferentiated.
That’s a good way of saying it.
Where all these universes meet–a place in time or space, removed from either or both–there is an integral self that exists beyond all possibilities.
The act of reality forming from thought differentiates these forms, causing universal constants to slip behind subliminal ideals, each variable taking upon itself a new manifestation based upon those factors that surround it.
Today I feel undifferentiated. It’s an integral part of my identity.
When the world didn’t end on Friday, I thought I’d post a revelatory message on Saturday. Instead, I got carried away applying for a scholarship and lost track of time. So, I figured, let’s just read the next lesson of the Pirkei Avot and post it promptly on Sunday. Well, as I decided to finish said application this evening and took something of a nap earlier in the afternoon, time has once more gotten away with me. Regardless, learning is learning no matter what time it happens at (although, arguably, midnight learning is best left for Shavuot).
Endurance training is pretty basic. It simply involves proper pacing, commitment, and determination. Through continued exercise, stamina and endurance are increased accordingly. But how does one make wisdom enduring? Last time we spoke about reverence and how it roots our wisdom, and this time we’re going to continue the narrative.
After all, if we are enduring, we’re practically immortal.
I teased today’s teaching last week when I explained my recent absence from writing and today I bring it back, but before we get to it, I offer a question to consider: What is wisdom? Who is wise? And why would–or would not–wisdom last over time?
It may be beneficial to take a moment to think thoroughly of these things before reading onward, but if you’d rather rush ahead, that’s okay, too–just keep all these thoughts in mind for later.
It’s all so simple in theory: Take an idea and put it on paper. Or jazz it up a bit and put it into pixels. The computer screen has never been so well read. Yet in practice it’s much harder. These ideas don’t come to me as a collection of words–that transcription happens later. In fact, oftentimes, when ideas are their freshest, words only get in the way.
Have I ever told you I never wanted to be a writer?
In a moment I was called a bureaucrat and a dictator. I was told I’ve spent so much time up top I’ve forgotten how the people at the bottom still think. How they feel. How they live and die and prosper and are crushed, decimated, dessicated, turned to poison and ingested in the cannibalistic universe we live in. All these things in fewer words, but all these things nonetheless.
The truth is I haven’t forgotten. My hide has grown thicker. My skin has grown harder. My muscles, stronger; my bones, impassioned, have turned to steel. And my mind–that precious vestibule of unarticulated prowess–my mind has only sharpened in these days of misery as I live life. But I have not forgotten.
People don’t know me. Even when I see a man a hundred times a day, even when I share my deepest thoughts and my most hidden inclinations and my most obvious and embarrassing faults with him, he does not know me. Maybe I don’t speak as clearly as I think I speak. Or maybe, as is more probable, I’m simply deeper than I think I’m deep.