Tuesday, December 09, 2014

By All Means, Let's Be Reasonable

Today, for the umpteenth time, I saw somebody comment, in mocking tones, that religion is wholly irrational, and I've finally reached a tipping point.

No, I'm not suddenly converted to some secure faith, comfortable that I have a place in the immortal realm. In fact, I'm probably less sure of my future than ever. But I will say, as a reasoning human being, that I find reality seems a mighty irrational, unreasoning thing.

Where is the logic, where is the reason in any life? From the moment life begins, it is doomed to end, likely to feed another doomed life. The merest cell, though, does everything it can to survive. It pushes itself through chaos, consuming others to become itself, sometimes to exist for only a few short minutes, sometimes for days, sometimes even longer, perhaps to transform itself into part of something even larger. Does it reason its existence? Does something else provide its reason? Reason, such as it is, tells us we are incapable of knowing the answer to the latter.

Life, itself, is without any apparent logic.

Out of seeming chaos, despite all logic, we live. Despite all reason, through that chaos, we choose to continue to live. Despite all reason, we find ways to enjoy the random nature of our existences. We find joy in our lives. We find laughter, or we make it. We make music. We make art. We make love. None of these things has even the remotest basis in logic, and yet, it is logical to pursue it all, because without it, there truly is no reason continue a life.

And so it is, for those who have faith. There is no logic behind the choice but that which says that to believe in an unseen force, a higher power, is to enhance one's existence in some way that defies reasoned language. This is not necessarily a bad thing in a human being. After all, it was those who believed in a Higher power who set themselves to the task of proving His laws. Those ambitious few established scientific method of inquiry, by which reason may be supported. And that scientific inquiry is what made modern technology possible, bringing joy  by way of advanced medicine, travel, communication, diet, and so on, to many more who otherwise would have lived and died in misery.

Without the illogical mind, this would not exist

Neither would this

let alone this

and this.

So, believing in the unlikely has long had its place in society. A little lack of logic is not to be mocked. It's only reasonable.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tourism: a Retrospectable

All things considered, I am not at all sorry my friend followed through on her promise to get me on a cruise. I am sorry she was uncomfortable from the cold, but I'm glad we both got to see a whole new piece of America. Without her insistence that we go, I would likely never have seen the things I saw this summer. For that, above all else, I have to thank her.

Were it not for my own depressions, and the difficulty I have every day trying to overcome my eremitic leanings, I suspect I'd have been less of a disappointment to my friend and her family. I know she wanted for us all to have the wildly, extravagantly good time on this trip that she had experienced on her Caribbean cruises, and I also know that the party life was never attractive to me, even in my days of youth, when I could hold my liquor and act with some reckless abandon.  I wish, in many ways, I could have shown her how much pleasure I found in just sitting quietly and drinking in the scenery...even just to look out at the open, ever-changing  ocean, or the rolling waves of earth that are the Prairie. Even when I was in pain, the light reaching my eyes did ultimately touch my soul.

I wish, also, that my body and mind were not so much my enemies. What would, for any normal, healthy person have been two weeks of unequalled delight were brought lower, especially on the last two days of our vacation, in large part due to pain. That, of course,  is unlikely to improve.

In spite of myself, though, I brought home some memories I will cherish until the day my mind is gone, whether that be before, or after the rest of me leaves the planet. For all of this, I have my friend to thank.

Mary, you have been a very good friend to me, and I am grateful to all the powers that be, that we met.

(Click on any picture to embiggen.)

Friends, memorial, Nebraska

Happy mountain is happy

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tourism, Day Thirteen: Lucky Me

Saturday, 6 June, 2014, I slept fitfully in my seatbelt, and woke up in a fog.

I kid you not. This was looking toward Cheyenne.

We were pretty much socked in until we neared the Nebraska state line,

 when the fog lifted and we rode forth in intermittent rain.

Somewhere just east of Lincoln, the clouds began to break up for us. We stopped for gas and whatever food was ready to go, and, while I was trying to unkink my legs by limping around the store, I found a display gondola filled with electronic accessories – including several different types and price ranges of adaptors. I pointed them out to my friend, who practically broke out in a dance of happiness. Not only was the one I pulled off the rack exactly the size and type she wanted, it was also only thirty dollars, including tax, which meant she could afford it, and she'd have a chance to plug in her laptop and do the paper which was due the next day at midnight (which, I might add, she had been given an extra time allowance beyond that Sunday for, because we had been out-of-country, but she's still a bit anxious about falling behind. Me, I'm a slacker. It's a wonder, opposite as we are, that we're still friends. I guess the universe really does enjoy mixed nuts).

She quit driving, climbed into the back seat next to her nephew, and the foster son drove the remainder of the way home, while she worked on her assignment.

Well, whoopee! Let's have a parade!

Her mood was improved, but that didn't mean we were going to stop for anything but fuel, still.

Naturally, I continued to stare out the window and take pictures of

 the Great American Midwest Landscape

Until we passed through Des Moines and came out the other side with a full tank, heading southeast on US-65. Then I got a bonus activity…
Des Moines, IA. Government is Golden.
shaking. The camera could handle it, but not I.

Seriously. If you have never driven the stretch of highway from Des Moines to Ottumwa, you do not know what shaking is. I don't care if you spent your career riding a jackhammer atop an out-of-balance washing machine anchored to an earthquake simulator, you have not been shaken the way US Highway 65 (and eventually US-63) will shake you. It is not safe to take babies on this road, for fear their little brains will rattle loose and Family Services will have you up on abuse charges.
If I could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate, I'd still be too stable for this road
Look at the above picture. Do you see the division of the wet patches, the little rectangles, with their demarcation lines crossing the road? This is not like the little separations on a sidewalk, or even little bumpy joints to the highway. These mark the waves in the pavement. One hour and thirty-five minutes of this rhythmic jarring of body and soul. And, lucky me! I still had a migraine. Plus, my legs and feet had swollen from their having been immobile so long, so they were tender as well…

Modern chemistry is my lifeline, but there were long moments when I seriously wondered if there were a lifeboat tethered at its other end, or just some a-hole shark yanking me around.

Agribusiness. It's a beautiful thing
 I distracted myself, as usual, trying to watch the scenery go by. That sort of worked. (Not really, but it was that, or whine. I hate whiners.)

I like people who have definite plans

It looked as though we were following on the heels of some pretty serious wetness.
In fact, we seemed to be gaining on the storm.

I was hoping it would be just fast enough ahead of us to be done raining when it came time to unload my crap (and my poor lumbering self) from the truck.

It was about an hour after sunset that we returned to Monmouth, and, indeed, the rains had almost ceased here. In just a few short minutes, I had all my gear unloaded from the truck and brought into the house.

On the down side, my feet had swollen so greatly that I couldn't wear my loosest slippers, my head was pounding, and everything in between was in some state of revolt.

On the up side, I was hailed as conquering hero by a doggyboy,

 a kittyboy,
 and a certain feline princess…
as well as cheerfully received home by a pair of parents:

Warmly ignored by the old M
and P. Such enthusiasm!

And then there was my own bed…but I don't need to draw you a picture, there.

I slept quite a bit, for the next week. I needed every last "Z" I got. It took longer than that, between resting and riding my bike again, to get my legs back to functional (still a bit of a twinge on a regular basis, and two hours on my feet are still my max before the completely quit).

The folks left on their two-week vacation and anniversary trip before the end of the week, packed with a few things I'd prepared for them to take to my seester (cookies for her & her hubby, and also a special batch for their dog).

I had the house to myself again, with the cats as my only company, and a chance to just appreciate the quiet solitude.

And then I got hit with that nasty cough…the one that's still tickling my throat fairly regularly, three and a half months later. 

The Fates obviously have a swell time twisting my thread.