A fundamental condition of life …

Several weeks ago, I had been out hiking and had sat down and write. Looking up from my notebook—at the large outcrop across from me—I saw a group of friends trying to navigate their way to the top. I watched for several minutes as they tried several alternate routes, all of which got them no closer to the top.

Then—not accepting defeat, but rejecting it—they sat down on a spacious ledge and took in the view. I snapped a few pictures but one in particular was my favorite.

I’m not a graphic artist by any means, so I apologize for any shortcomings this image may have … but I hope you all enjoy it.

BeingTogether

Cosmic Beings

It was there for just an instant—a bright speck of light on the horizon.

I had been sitting, crossed-leg, my notebook on my knee, pen in hand. I looked up from my page–just for a momentto take in the view. I was perched atop a great granite outcrop, high on a ridge.

My eyes swept over the landscape, from the mountains growing on the eastern horizon, and westward across the patchwork of farmland broken by green pine covering the ridges and ravines. And there it was. To the southwest, a flash of light.

There’s a highway there—a four lane artery that stretches to the south. The light came from where the road bends, just before dropping into a valley and disappearing into the shade.

I watched the area for a few minutes and the flash of light did not repeat itself.

It was likely just the sun being reflected off a windshield.

Just …

I wondered at the odds of that happening: for me to see light reflected off a windshield more than 10 miles away.

First, what are the odds that 70 million years ago a plume of intrusive magma—destined to be granite—would force its way into a thick layer of basalt? And what are the odds that between 12 and 15 thousand years ago glacial floods would eat away that basalt, exposing the several granite monoliths? And what are the odds that I would be sitting on top of one of those monolithic outcrops at that exact moment? Astronomical. That’s not to mention the fact that the sun was in the perfect position in the sky, given the angle of the car windshield. And let’s not forget I looked up just in time to see it.

This bright flash was something miraculous.

But even more miraculous … you. What are the odds of you existing? It took billions of years for stars to create the elements that you are made of. The earth only existed for a billion years before recognizable cells came into existence. Another 3.5 billion years and this planet saw mammals. Modern anatomical humans have only been around for a quarter million years, and in that history you can find the genetic material that you are harboring inside all of your cells.

Imagine a single change to this sequence of events, a sequence that spans billions of years—an inconceivable amount of time. A single change could have changed everything.

If the chances of me seeing that light were astronomical, that makes the probability of your existence … cosmic.

“Do Something”

So life has been crazy the last few weeks. With Christmas and New Year’s, I have been working 80 hour weeks and have been having problems finding the time to write.

Sorry for the excuses, but I do have something for you … a poem. It’s short and simple, but full of meaning. You can find the original here and be sure to check out the other writings of Jackson Dean Chase.

“Do Something”

Do something.
It doesn’t have to be the right thing,
the perfect thing-
it just has to be some thing.
Something you mean to be good,
to matter to yourself, to others.
Doing that one thing
transcends thoughts,
transcends words.
It moves you forward
into the Light.

—Jackson Dean Chase

Predestine Wisely.

I used to reject the notion of predestination … the concept was just a bit too religious for me.

But what if we view predestination not from the perspective of God, but from our own perspective?

Really, predestination means to determine your destination in advance. In the sense of an omniscient God, I had interpreted as him deciding for me. But what if it’s us? What if it’s our decisions that determine where we end up?

That’s empowering … but at the same time, frightening. What if we aren’t cognizant of these decisions … what if we fail to recognize how they will affect our lives further down the road? Then we fail to see with foresight … we will fail to meet our goals … we will fail to guide our lives in the direction we desire …

But if we are cognizant, we have a great influence over the course of our lives. We realize how every decision may affect our final destination, and can use that foresight to help inform our decisions.

Fate isn’t some concept that acts on the scale of infinity. It’s something that is formed day to day, month to month, year to year—we write our own fate. So when you think about predestination, remember that it is you who determines your final destination … so predestine wisely.

Something you should get out of your system.

The following is an excerpt from my book The DivideRead more about the book and see the index of excerpts here. See Mike & Maggie’s website here.

Mike took the lead again. “So what made you want to do this anyway?”

“Well, I had recently finished school and just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do… I thought it would be a pretty cool item for the life resume, a good challenge. I thought I’d come out here and try to find myself.”

At that last statement, Mike chuckled and said, “Yeah, get that out of your system.”

I thought I saw Maggie turn her head just slightly to Mike and give a look of incredulity at what he had just said. Then again, maybe I was the incredulous one and had just imagined Maggie was on my side.

“Well that’s great, Nathan,” Maggie said, “has it been a good experience so far?”

I thought about it before I answered. “Yeah, it has.”

We talked a few more minutes before I let them go. Decided on my course, I started on the 6 miles of pavement up toward La Manga Pass.

Mike had said, “Get that out of your system.” I couldn’t get that out of my head. I didn’t take offense to what he said. I wasn’t insulted. In a weird way, I was inspired. But why?

Out of my system!

What Mike said had clicked. Being inspired by his statement didn’t seem strange any more, rather it made perfect sense. I had said the trip was, in part, an attempt to “find myself.” Well, where did I go? Did I lose myself? Was my body just mindlessly wandering around without me? No! So what the hell was I looking for!

In my study of philosophy I had read about switching our energy from action to contemplation. This made no sense to me when I read it. Wasn’t that counterproductive? But Plato, he defined contemplation as “knowing and being.” We should switch our energy from “seeking and becoming” to “knowing and being.” Switch your energy from seeking to knowing. What was it I sought?

I had been suffering from the illusion of an internal separateness. I had thought there were two versions of me: the person I was and the person I wanted to be. I was searching for that other person, as if there were a secret that other person had, as if he knew what I wanted and needed, what was best for me, what I should do. What a bunch of bullshit. Mike was right, I needed to get that kind of thinking out of my system.