When we grow up

‘As generalists, we must be curious.  Curiosity is what makes things come together in that unique way, where “innovation” happens.’*

‘If we are looking for something specific, we set aside anomalies and remain focused.’**

My hope is that life is becoming more interesting for more people.   I was born at the end of the 1950s and have increasingly realised how I have lived through what feel like seismic shifts in our understanding of everyone’s capacity to open their minds, hearts, and wills with artists and passion.

‘In each new epoch – perhaps every generation, or even every few years, if the conditions in which we live change that rapidly – it becomes necessary to rethink and reformulate what it takes to establish autonomy in consciousness.’^

I don’t see a flowing in one greater, stronger direction.  There are cataracts and eddies and white-water and meanderings along the way.  We don’t know yet how much our increasing reliance on technology will impoverish our consciousness.  This is the simply the adventure of life we find ourselves in.  Astronomist Vera Rubin reflects:

“If there were no problems it wouldn’t be much fun.”^^

In this remark, Rubin is commenting on how how here discovery of dark matter was not so welcome at first:

“I think many people initially wished that you didn’t need dark matter.  It was not a concept that people embraced enthusiastically.”^^

As Alan Lightman points out about Rubin’s work:

‘As in her earlier work on the bulk motions of whole galaxies, dark matter would require a revision in cosmological thinking.’*^

We are curious, we explore, we discover, our thinking shifts.  In the cosmological world but also in the amazing universes that are human lives.  Rubin had wanted to be an astronomer from childhood, some of us figure out what it is we want to do in our forties.  We have to be noticing.  It’s something we can all do, even if it’s to relearn it. Jamil Mahuad points out:

“Possibilities can be disguised.  They can be blurred, and the most important thing – they flicker.”^*

The most important expert we can be is an expert in ourselves.  You being an expert in you.  Me being an expert in me.  E.E. Cummings encourages us towards this when he writes about the courage to be ourselves:

“As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time — and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.”⁺

Cummings says, don’t let people say you can’t be a poet.  Rubin despairs at the the kind of gender stereotyping that robs science of female scientists, something that takes hold at such an early age.  Rubin’s granddaughter at the age of three had cried out at an uncle “Boys can’t be girls”- he’d suggested he be the nurse and she be the doctor when treating a sick rabbit:

“So you may talk about role models and your thinking about colleges but this happens at the ago of three.  I think its a terrible problem.  It sets in very young.  Somehow or others, you have to raise the little girls who have enough confidence in themselves to be different.”^^

This is where we are, rethinking consciousness of self, helping others to explore the Self they can be.  Cummings, on seeing what everyone else was fitting in with and the kind of world that might result, reflects:

“And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world — unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does that sound dismal? It isn’t.

It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.”⁺

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I am 58 years old and, in one sense, I still don’t know, but I am certain that when we explore our consciousness then, as Eugene Peterson points out:

‘The larger the world we live in, the larger our lives develop in response.’⁺⁺

(*gapingvoid’s blog: Generalists vs experts.)
(**From Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.)
(^^Vera Rubin, quoted in Alan Lightman’s A Sense of the Mysterious.)
(*^From Alan Lightman’s A Sense of the Mysterious.)
(^*Jamil Mahuad, quoted in Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(E.E. Cummings, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Courage to be 
(From Eugene Peterson’s Run With the Horses.)


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