Bob Dylan’s 1962 creation is haunting and profound. On a personal level, how did you get to where you are – here and now? Indeed, “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind.” Ponder for a moment (possibly for the first time?) remembered events from your first awareness to what’s churning in your brain at this moment. Both exhilarating and frightening – right? Highways driven, roads not taken, love savored, overtures unavailed, challenges addressed, opportunities unanswered… The countless twists and turns that have gotten you – by your choices – from there and then to the here and now.
And, like a sailing vessel, your fate has also been driven by the vagaries of the winds and currents. Ultimate destiny safe harbor or (more likely?) sobering flotsam to be pondered by passing ships’ captains still enjoying a marginal illusion of control. Regardless, the best you can do is your best…and rarely achieving that is just cause for celebration.
I’m a comfortably retired scientist…exactly what I aspired to when I was a mere kid growing up during the post-WWII boom. Yet, the times I could (should?) have perished, like a snuffed candle…seem more than I have a right to have persisted. Struck by lightning…survived; challenged by AKs…released, attacked by beast and men…survived, med OD…survived. The average probability of terminal outcome was 50:50 each time…and the times numerous! I figure the instances were at least ten – which places my survivability around one in a thousand. So am I just “lucky” or is there something more to it?
This is where the personal “Time Line” comes in. Granted, I (and you) enjoy only a single perspective from which to judge our own lives. For you, it is your perception of your life. No one else can do much more than listen to your account of how you remember the past that got you to relating it. You two are just ships passing in the night with a brief toot, a few muffled words and hazy faces and waves through the fog…then again nothing but your own navel to ponder.
Permit me to wax metaphysical here and now: We are both profoundly aware of (if nothing else)…our own personal awareness. Indeed, “I think, therefore I am.” You know that’s true; I know that’s true. Yet Science has little or nothing to say on the subject. Indeed, in my training (physics) – it was generally considered tantamount to heresy to even think about thinking! I was chastised more than once by “Learned Professors” to “leave it to the philosophers.” The tone was always dismissive of my musings and – by extension – all philosophers.
Thankfully, I was sufficiently recalcitrant and self-aware to dismiss (soto voce) their consul. I continued to study Quantum Mechanics and enjoyed an exhilarating career doing the science. The most useful thing I gained from this background is a good knowledge of the “selection” that takes place all around us. And the consequent unavoidability of distinctly metaphysical implications of our best understanding “how the universe works.” In a nutshell, it boils down to the assertion that some sort of magic occurs that sifts single realized events from all possibilities. They aptly call it “collapse of the wave-function.” And one (unavoidable!) consequent is that this collapse into reality is “the measurement event.” It is most often a click on a Geiger counter, a bright dot on an image, a zero flipping parity to become a one… But each of these in turn are read by a scientist. That is, the end of the chain is in the scientist’s brain. Where also (no coincidence) resides the “I think, therefore I am!”
So…I get to thinkin’…we are all captains of our little craft on a sea of potential knowledge. We have sails and rudder and events collapse into our brains through our senses. And now the magic: We participate in the selection – from among all possibilities – what becomes real. The other branches are pruned from the tree of possibilities by our consciousness. Only the survivable ones persist…because any deviation to an unsurvivable outcome would destroy our consciousness and render those possibilities moot, unrealized, unreal.
This allows your reality to differ from my reality. And it places your destiny squarely on your shoulders. No excuses, no leaning on, no blaming others for your failures.
The choices are up to you – now set the sail, mind the tiller and think positive thoughts. Where and how you go is in your hands alone. We others are here guiding our ships and willing to toot, greet and wave you on your way.
Ponder for a moment (possibly the first time?) remembered events from your first awareness to what’s churning in your brain at this moment. Both exhilarating and frightening – right?
© 2014 Thomas Dey - 7/22/14