Merely Mortal Minds

Tuesday featured a church community group barbecue that was excellent. We had loads of delicious food, lots of conversation (both serious and lighthearted), a brief Move Your Boogie Body session, and a great deal of laughter. It was a lovely evening. I also have been spending a good chunk of my afternoons in Phoenix Park with my book because the weather has been absolutely stunning. Other people think it’s still a bit chilly (and the wind, as I’ve said before, certainly isn’t helping) but I’ve definitely been hot. I have a pretty low threshold for hot. Anyway.

If you didn’t know, Washington’s State Flower is the coastal rhododendron. Ireland doesn’t have a state flower per se, but the horticultural symbol of the island is, unsurprisingly, the shamrock (rose for England, thistle for Scotland, leek for Wales). This has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted you to know.

A thing that I like to say when answering a question in the firm negative is “in no universe.” Examples might be something like, “In no universe do I like tomatoes” or ” In no universe is Hugh Jackman not amazing.” Relatedly, a game I occasionally played in my dorm freshman year was In an Alternate Universe where we would just say outrageous things. Here, examples would look something like this: in an alternate universe, the moon is literally made of cheese; in an alternate universe, I am the Queen of England; in an alternate universe, doughnuts are free on the first Thursday of every month. You know, the usual.

But how exciting is it to think of alternate universes? If there truly are infinite realities, then there is a reality in which every possible option is true. So I am actually a wizard who attended Hogwarts (because that’s real too). Simultaneously, I am the wealthy Victorian gentleman that I’ve always wanted to be. And the successful author. And I live in a seaside cottage in Croatia keeping bees, raising fruit trees, and selling books. Additionally, I’m a ventriloquist, master lockpick, martial artist, professional oboe player, and mayor of Gillette, Wyoming. In at least one universe, I’m all of those things at once. I also love imagining counterfactual histories. What if the Spanish had lost to the Aztecs? What if Ireland had never been conquered by the English? What if the American Revolution simply created an American Monarchy?

fundacion_tenochtitlan

I just thought this was a cool painting. Foundation of Mexico by Roberto Cueva del Rio

So such lines of imagining aren’t productive in the least, but they’re so much fun. When I see things that are like, Mozart wrote ten thousand masterpieces before he was eight, I’m just like, in an alternate universe, I am Mozart. And Picasso. Simultaneously. There’s a great Picasso quote, speaking of, where he says, “When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.” I may or may not have given a biographical speech on Picasso in seventh grade. Anyway. In this universe, I may not have attended Hogwarts. I may not be High King of Gondor. I may not be Prince Kheldar of Drasnia (perhaps my favorite book character of all time). But I’m me. For good or for ill, I’m me. And I’m the best (and only) one this universe has. So let’s make do, yeah?

There are so many things in this world that are utterly beyond our merely mortal minds. How can the finite contemplate the infinite? How can the minuscule understand the immense? For some, there is great frustration in these questions. But for me, I find great comfort in the not-knowing. I love not knowing how big the universe is. I love not knowing how gravity works. I love not knowing how light travels. This is not a call to ignorance or abandoning curiosity. Rather, it is a call to wonder. A call to awe. If knowledge is acquired through the pursuit of facts, wisdom comes from the pursuit of truth. The two are not mutually exclusive, or even opposed, but just a different approach to the world. Do we seek to know in order to master or do we seek to understand in order to be humbled?

Well, that strayed once more into the realm of amateurish philosophy, but I’ll not apologize for it, these are things that I think about sometimes.

Anyway. Click here for a pleasant surprise.

I’ve really been enjoying these lists and sharings and things, so for the month of June, I’m going to highlight one TV show that I have watched in the past and one that I’m currently watching. Because, as I think I’ve made pretty clear, I’m definitely a Netflix addict. And just TV generally. And this time, I’ll give a little commentary.

Past: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Such a good show. I watched this across the first three semesters of college and I love it so much. I was just contemplating a couple weeks ago how sad it is that I’ll never watch it for the first time again. Brief plot summary: it’s about a high school girl who, with the help of her own Scooby gang, saves the world over and over again from demons, vampires, and assorted baddies.

Present: Daniel Deronda (2002)

Okay, so technically this is a mini-series because it’s just an adaptation of George Eliot’s novel of the same name. But it’s really interesting so far. I really like Daniel and pretty much hate the other characters. The only other Eliot I’m familiar with is Mill on the Floss (1860) which I loved. Basically, I’m getting that Eliot does pretty well at illuminating kind of awful people without making them caricatures–and does the same for generally good people. Because no one’s perfect. Also, a great deal of social commentary.

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