Monday, June 28, 2010

The Wealth of the Human Spirit

We live in a society filled with ‘loss-averse,” fearful and pessimistic points of view. It is a mind-set consummated in absence of reality – life. To live is to improve, to better, to create, to enhance, to challenge, to achieve; a prime directive of human existence that is being relinquished. No longer do we as a people feel the urge to optimize our inner resources but desire to be entitled, to subjugate ourselves in the warm fuzzy blanket of desire without the prickly thorns of effort. Whatever we seek must come quickly to us. For it is in our inheritance. It must lay itself at our doorstep for we have justified it in our minds. It must be. Our fears are so many, our vision so limited, our action so confined that scarcely do we consider that we have self-shuttered our inner being.

Never have a people so endowed in the wealth of ideas and a profundity of motivation driven itself into such a self-imposed limit of action. It is the tragic trappings of an imagined dread that leads to the wanton decay of an enlightened society.

Personal responsibility be damned for if their ever was a sense of self that loathed the soft flabby core of the being, it is gone, evaporated, distilled out of the essence of our being. We compare and find that wanting and then we cry for an empathic eye to sympathize with us, others to take our cause, to desire our desires for us and not for themselves. We run to a listener’s ear and bend it to the waves of our needs and not finding any at each turn of the screw we mope and cast aspersions of hedonism to others.

The insolence of thought resident in our minds firms, coagulates and becomes opaque to all other understanding. It becomes hard as stone, impervious to reality. Again we cry, for it is our given right! Isn’t it? Or is it our right to earn that right. And by earn we mean to spend countless hours of tedium, drenched in the sweat of the mind and body. Showing up for work and doing it half-heartedly, timing the hours, watching the west for the setting sun or the east for the first rays over the horizon to stamp the time-clock and thus gaming the system is different then immersing in one’s work with the desire to enhance, to better to achieve.

The inheritors of this earth are the “creators”, “the innovators”, “the enhancers”, “the challengers” and “the achievers”.

The creators are not employed in the irrational despondence of pessimism. They are gainfully employed in the prelude to their desire. Their energies are focused on the motion and toil of each second. Not a single moment is cast away at frivolity, nor is time spent at what would be if this does not succeed. Their minds do not give rise to the temptation of “what-ifs” they march along to the drumbeat of their destiny. Failure is a learning process that catapults them to new highs. These minds focus on the event itself and not on the culmination of that event. They are forever filling their bag of ticks with the newness of thought to jump each hurdle and to use the finish line as a starting point for a new adventure.

Those that desire to better life follow a similar path. It is not that dinner is entirely composed of potato soup alone. They work to grow the plants and one day to raise animal livestock so they may better the lives of their families. It is in the roughness of the product that they wish to refine. It is in the simplicity of a few lines of software code they wish to make the application run with smoothness and bug-free. The cling of the clothes from the static or the partially removed stain from a wash fills them with desires to better the product. From bulky 3-pound wireless phones to wafer-thin Internet capable photo and video-shoot ready, music enabled pieces of engineering marvels. These are the ones that will inherit the world.

                               The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
The enhancers are the ones that live quietly always seeking potentials to grow. They view the experience and see what the human spirit needs to tickle its imagination. They are the Walts of the Disney Worlds. Imagination is a large warehouse of ideas where science, art and life are filled with creative words and thoughts to tweak the fertile soil of a growing mind. Where children of all ages gather early in their lives to see and learn and from there as they depart to their futures are inspired to become the enhancers for all.

                                         Walt Disney

The challengers inspire confidence. Status quo is stagnation and death for their spirit. They are constantly thinking and taking on difficulties when others have given up or walked away. These few, strong minded full witted back-boned strengthened elite live to find that which cannot be conquered and then set out to face it. These are the Tensings,
                                     Tensing Norgay on Mt. Everest

the Yeagers,
                                Chuck Yeager and the Sound Barrier

and the Armstrongs of the world.
     "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" - Neil Armstrong

Nothing is too big or too difficult. Nothing is too steep or too deep. Nothing is not within reach. These few reside in the sublimity of rarefied existence. They excel not for the glory but for the conquest. They succeed not for the fame but for the will of the human mind. They challenge not for the sake of it but for the desire to show that human intellect and strength of character can overcome that which is not only difficult but considered impossible. So the records of the longest, highest, deepest, steepest and the most daunting of tasks are constantly being broken.

The achievers are a breed imbued with the nascent spirit of want and desire. They are constantly working to achieve the next highest goal. It is the achievers that make the world an inspired realm. A showcase for what can be accomplished through dedication and hard work. They achieve the pinnacle and then create another imaginary peak to climb. They are within themselves in a constant state of war with the now. The future brightens with their inspiration and dedicated hard work. The achiever is distinct from the charlatan. Where as the former longs for success at personal cost carefully treading a path to avoid reaching his goal through usurpation, the latter desires it at any cost but to the self, stepping on others’ toes, commandeering other’s ideas and castigating anyone that stands in the way,. These achievers include the Robert Kearns and the Steve Jobs of the world. To them, success is not in the wealth but the ambition towards that success. Constantly illuminating new ideas in their minds and frequently merging thoughts to innovate. “Ts a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

                Robert Kearns inventor of intermittent wiper

The world is awash with the “intellectuals” who sit and think and consume the hours of the days and nights conjecturing, articulating human and societal behavior. They pontificate from a prejudice of thought and “feel” for the disenfranchised, while they squander their time at luncheons and dinners with others like themselves pondering on the fate of the human condition. These intellectuals write treatises and books to convince and corrupt the minds of the many that would be the vanguards of society. These misled and misleading bunch of cowardly few, through the ink they spill on the canvas of life misdirect those that would be great and turn them into mediocre. An “intellectual” is one who forever contemplates -without risk of action and failure, and spends his life like a leach that sucks away the strength and vigor of the rest. Were it not for Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, 




                               3D Cartesian Geometry

Charles Babbage of the world, 
            Charles Babbages and the Difference Machine

the human race could not and would not exist only with the likes of Socrates, Aristotle, Bertrand Russell and Sigmund Freud . Where the intellect of Leonardo was experimented and the telescope of Galileo negated the geocentric vision of the world, Michelangelo created art to lift the human spirit and still does as you gaze at the Sistine chapel ceiling. Where as Newton discovered gravity for Einstein to play with his thought experiments leading to the General and Special Relativity Theories and Rene Descartes created the Cartesian model of geometry to further measurement. As equally as Charles Babbage had the vision for a “computer.” Standing on the shoulders of that giant gave us the visionary entrepreneurs like Steven Jobs and Bill Gates. These intellectuals were risk takers, learners, advancers of thought through self-sacrifice and action.

It is not only to think and speak but also to do that, from which one finds success or failure. From the latter is borne a wilder momentum of action for even greater success.

The ashes that fall from a fall are as many as the phoenix that rises from them. It is in the failure where success breeds and blossoms. The perpetual, innovator, creator, achiever, challenger and enhancer picks up the fragments of a perished idea and transforms these pieces into another unique and modern concept. It is in the heart of these individuals that the wealth of the human spirit resides and it is in their minds that the tiny speck of desire to better is born.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The meaning of the word "is"

It can be a bolt of lightning, without warning, against a pitch dark night sky. The quick illumination and the darkness. The suddenness is all. The moment presents itself. Or it can slowly evolve over tremendous odds snaking its way through a thicket of opposition and turbulent rivers of chaos. The moment where a feeling of total bliss or one of complete unhinging of the mind delivers the unmistakable sense of doom. There is a fleeting sense of despair or a collective feeling of love and affection. Warmth flows. Where all appears lost and then in that one second all is regained. A sensation that soars through the wilderness of thought collapsing into a sentiment so deep and yet completely vivid, so compelling, this then is the cumulative evolution of time sequenced human endeavor. This then is the collective nuance of shadows and bright lights. This then is the wondrous of moments called “is.”

A woman gets into her car to drive to an appointment. The road is empty and she immerses herself into the fold of her favorite music. A solo violin drowns the world into a emotional cascade. The rise and fall of the notes imbued with the sentiment of the violinist evoking emotive bursts of repressed feelings. The houses pass by in a blur as do the trees, it is a cinematographer’s dreamscape created out of reality. The traffic lights all conspire to keep the car moving at great speed. The essence of life is instilled into the moment as the outside world fades into non-existence and only the sound of the music fills the void within the automobile. The now is what matters. All is well. Time has stood still and there are no petulant contrary opinions or a flood of rogue ideas advocating confusion. The driver is on a mission to sign a multi-million dollar deal at a bank 50 miles away. A life-changing event for her.

On the asphalt of the opposing crossroad travels a man seat-belted in a red convertible smiling from ear to ear speeding his way to meet his sweetheart whom he has not seen in several interminably long days. The castle of desires tempts to speed the passage of time trying to get more than the allotted fragmented moment will yield. The wind has blown his weariness away. His face flushed by the warm sun is cooled by the rush of air drying off his perspiration. Time is wild with anticipation and moments merge into a cacophony of ideas all collaborating, contesting, cajoling and convening to formulate the final plan.  What would he say first or would he say anything? Would she speak first? Or would he just hold her to him? With his foot on the accelerator and the stretch of the road in its pencil straight geography the conspiracy of safety and risk grows by the second. The two roads are about to cross.

A bird flies overhead chirping its discord. She has just wrested a small worm from the ground below her feet. She carries it to her nest to feed her young. From the ground her flight appears strangely like that of a drunken sailor, haphazard yet deliberate to reach her destination as the aerodynamics of her wings collide with the crazy non-directional breezes of the summer.

The mighty oak tree stands erect shading a portion of the intersection with its bounty of thick branches and leaves. This is the home for the bird’s nest and her three young mouths that have to be fed.

Meanwhile the biker wearing his bright blue helmet stands with his one foot on the ground and the other on the pedal dousing his face with the water from the green-blue plastic water bottle. His face is red in stark relief to his black jersey. with exertion and his mind joyous with the deliciousness of the released endorphins. He feels on top of the world. He feels energized for the next one hour of pedaling against inertia. In that moment he feels he owns a piece of this time.

These are country roads, without traffic lights and where the two intersect there are stop signs placed on all four sides, faded in color but visible in intent. There is an inexorable plod to destiny. Is it prescience or just a collision of fates and time? What holds the motion to the exactness of time? What precision sways one driver to accelerate and the other to decelerate through that wad of time to present themselves at the appointed moment? What makes the cyclist stop at that exact place to find shade under that tree when there are several others nearby? And what makes the bird fly at around the trees happily fluttering its way to find the wanting, squawking mouths of its young ones? There is destiny in all this. There is a harmony in all time. There must be reason in this “is.”

The cyclist lifts his head up to look at the bird and his water bottle drops on the road. It rolls steadily spilling as it ends up in the middle of the road. Unbeknownst of the trending calamity moving his way he drops his bicycle and walks toward the middle of the intersection where his bottle lies. He bends down to pick it up as the roar of the V8 engines merge in synchrony to create a low incipient thunder.

The driver in the convertible sees the cyclist first and applies his brakes. The screeching tires trying to hold on to the asphalt slip and lose their grip as the car skids into a three-sixty moving with just a tad slower speed towards the intersection. By now the other driver also sees the cyclist’s figure erecting itself in a sudden change in stance. She pumps the brakes and the anti-brake locking mechanism does a staccato of short bursts of braking action. The car moves steadily with a rat-a-tat-a-tat in the path of the driver’s intuitive choosing to avoid the cyclist and stops on the roadside gravel. Meanwhile the convertible deploys the anti-roll bar as the left side of the car un-weights itself off the road momentarily veering to its left heading towards the cycle lying on its side, stopping just before the metal is within a graze of the natural bark of the tree.

Life is preserved and the “is” now has become a “was.” Destiny has presented another soul-searching moment of what could have been for the inhabitants of this small space of a country road intersection. The “is” that is now a “was,” has changed their lives perceptibly for the future. Fortuitous, destiny, fate or just plain “is,” – it is that evolutionary collective of moments.