A man is not born beautiful. This is an attitude he has to cultivate. Form follows function. When the thoughts are pure, the aura follows. The body flows, the image changes. Some are able to accomplish this with mystical precision only moments after birth. For some it occurs later when he pivots some hickory into a flying ball, or when his foot crosses a line before the hands meet on a clock, or when the curves he scribes bring order to chaos.
It is in creation that a man develops beauty. There is no other more fundamental act to bring conscious meaning to his existence. Man cannot give birth to life, so he must use his hands and mind to give rise to that which has not been before. This is what others can recognize. Yet he rarely sees it in himself, choosing rather to explain away his passionate motives as simply what can be accomplished. For in the awareness of the universe there is nothing he can produce of adequate measure. No matter how brilliant he knows he will always be smaller than the sun. But when holding that built by others of diverse talent, he may believe he is living in a world populated by star throwers.
And therein lies the impediment. Mortality leads to doubt. Nothing permanent can be created by he who is constructed of dust. Therefore we are imperfect and destined to decay and entropy.
This is the dragon that must be slain. This is the original sin imparted to us at birth. This is the force of deconstruction and the origin of all we call evil. A man must first defeat himself before he can become divine. Only then can he build his own universe and set his own stars in the sky. And he must.
It is not complicated. It is difficult. That is the true beauty of living, and the purpose of life itself.
My grandmother's uncle worked with Guglielmo Marconi. They invented radio.
I didn't know this until I was grown and in graduate school and my grandma was nearing her end. One day she produced a letter written to her by her favorite uncle who had left Sicily to work for Marconi in Milano. She read it to me translating the Sicilian script to English. It was what would be typically sent by an adult to a child. Tales of travel and how days were spent. A promise to come back soon. But it was the letterhead that caught my attention.
"Grandma. Uncle Giuseppe worked for Marconi. You never told me."
"Yes, he discovered the radio."
"How come you never told me that?"
"I didn't want you to be discouraged. You thought you were the first electrical engineer in the family."
"I'm not discouraged. I guess I'm proud."
"Good. Now. Go discover radio."
My grandparents passed. Then so did my father, my uncles and aunts. Everyone who believed in my abilities and encouraged me left the planet, one by one, single file.
And I did not discover radio. And those who believed I could, no longer provide the voice to guide me into life's successes and failures that we call adventure.
It seems without question that my contribution to the depth of knowledge of electronics is, as we techies like to say, identical to the trivial solution to all linear differential equations.
To the non-mathematical world I mean: zero.
"...your mind is a center of Divine operation, and consequently contains that within itself
which accepts suggestions, and expect all life to respond to your
- Genevieve Behrend "Your Invisible Power" 1921
There is a haunting which is loving. It comes in parameters that are impossible to measure. Images that do not emit photons. Emotions that defy the communication channel language provides.
We can't express this interaction accurately so we call it a "spiritual encounter," or "prayer", or "divine guidance," or being "touched by angels." But it is not any of those things and it will not simplify itself to be comprehended by our tiny brains.
Just because we cannot describe it well doesn't mean it is not there. Believing it is there is the essence of faith, and we are a very faithful race. We take on faith the force of gravity. Not one of us believes he will survive a fall from a tall building or a mountain top. We have faith in all our fears, and we are good at developing new fears when the old ones wear us down.
What is harder is to have faith in the fundamental creative force of existence. In positive outcomes. In the ability of our fellow man not to disappoint us, and most importantly, in our ability not to disappoint ourselves. We have faith that we are less likely to experience those things rather than the realization of our fear.
We are indeed all believers.
There is a pivot in my life around which everything changed. A singular, unremarkable event changed everything about me from head to toe, past to future. It changed my job. My marriage. My accomplishments. My dreams. My abilities. The length of my life. Most importantly, my faith.
The year was 1999. The month was May. The day was Saturday. The time was 1:00PM. The event was this: I went to a bookstore, and bought a book.
Oddly the idea to go get a book came to me while I sat on my sofa reading a perfectly fine book. I was alone in the house. The wife and kids were out. The windows were open and a soft warm breeze filled my living space. The sunlight was precious and golden. I had come back from a nice mountain bike ride so I was enjoying the relaxation only endorphins can bring after a brisk workout and shower. And I sat down to read.
And I knew, totally, that I needed to get up off the sofa and buy a book.
Looking back upon this, I might say that at that moment I was guided by angels, or led by the creator, or urged on by the spirits of my recently deceased relatives. But it wasn't any of that. It was just simply a notion that my existence at that moment would be even better if I put down the perfectly fine book I was reading, got off the sofa, got in my car, and drove to the bookstore and got a new book.
So I did.
And I remember I went to Crown Books in Los Gatos, and I remember I browsed the shelves finding absolutely nothing that looked interesting. I was about to leave, now feeling a bit stupid for leaving my comfy couch in the sun and the breeze to wander a bookstore aimlessly looking for something that might not be there.
I was about to walk out of the store when a book caught my eye. On a whim - and simply because I didn't want to leave empty handed - I picked it up and bought it on the basis of the title alone: "Psychic Warrior"
It was a lousy book. I do not recommend it. But from the time I finished reading it events unfolded in my daily routine as if someone had sped up the DVD of my life to 2x, and then 4x playback.
Through a series of improbable "accidents" I wound up meeting the Psychic Warriors. They taught me some things, and led me to a "team" of people who within a "dream state" collectively had a vision of a woman, which led me to Antarctica, which led me to meet the woman in the vision on that desolate continent, which led me to the South Pole itself, and then marriage to that woman, to now, where I start every day waking next to the blonde haired girl five of us saw in a vision guided by U.S. military intelligence personnel.
As I go back and reread that prior sentence I try to edit it to make it seem more rational. I could take out the part about the U.S. military intelligence people and just say Military Psychics, but that's pretty weird, too. I could take out the part about the "team" and just say "made some friends", maybe that would soften the message. I could call the "dream state" something like zen meditation or even yoga. I could call the South Pole of planet earth something else, like "the ice."
Truth is if I used that sentence as the premise for a science fiction series it would be rejected on the grounds it is too unbelievable to be reality, and too over the top to be fiction.
But it's my real life.
I have wanted to go to Antarctica since I knew it was there. I can trace that back to a National Geographic television special I saw on a black-and-white TV when I was in kindergarten. I saw men trying to drive snowmobiles over giant piles of ice in northern Greenland. This was before LANDSAT and GPS - so to figure out the geography of the planet you had to go to places and map them. They discovered there was more Greenland than anyone ever expected.
I remember taking a brick red crayon from a box of 64 Crayolas and going to the Grolier Atlas and drawing in extra parts of Greenland just discovered.
I remember looking at the rest of the globe, and realizing there was more white icy land even farther away to the south.
And I remember the tremendous intensity with which the premise occurred to me that I would need to go to that ice to the south.
I did not know why, then. But I do now.
Antarctica is a great filter of humanity. It's prohibitively difficult to get there. Therefore, those who do tend to be very interesting, creative, and lucky.
But for all the creative diversity, this conversation happens in Antarctica regularly. I suspect daily.
Person one says, "I can't believe I'm here."
Person two says, "Me neither."
One: What brings you down here?
Two: Well, I'm with so-and-so's science team.
One: Me, too. X-y-z science team. But you know, I've always wanted to be here. Since I can remember.
Two: Me too. Since I could speak. Why do you think...?
One: I don't know. I just always wanted to.
Two: Do you think there's a reason?
(they go back to drinking their orange juice/beers/vodka shots/whatever)
"All your word-thoughts were God
word-forms before they were yours."
- G. Behrend Ibid.
When an idea wants to live it will surround you and attack. These days an idea comes to me regularly. If I stop thinking about it, someone around me will mention it. It will show up in a line of text I'm reading or in a song on the radio.
This is a very old idea. It's also well known by everyone who wants to accomplish something.
Norman Vincent Peale called it "The Power of Positive Thinking." Dale Carnagie called it Stop Worrying and Start Living. Jesus called it "Ask and you shall receive."
Ask any sports star how he prepares mentally for physical contest and he will tell you that he visualizes a winning outcome. Ask any successful salesman how he got that way, and once you've waded through hours of self-serving dreck he will tell you that he never enters into a sales situation without first "assuming the sale." That is, he envisions the deal is closed and he behaves that way from the start of the conversation with the customer.
There are endless screeds on this topic in all forms from YouTube to cuneiform on clay tablets. For reasons we humans can only speculate upon - we can affect the outcome of our efforts through strength of imagination. The Secret. The Law of Attraction. The Power of Intention.
You need only type one of those into your favorite search engine to develop a list of essays on this topic. To be successful, you need to first think successful. You get what you think with the utmost faith. You get what you say.
As a logical person I could suggest that what we have here is millennia of "wishful thinking" packaged up and sold to suckers over the ages.
Except in that when I examine my own life I see dramatic evidence of this effect, this force, this phenomenon - at work. With real consequences.
And I am writing this note to all of you, because as I sit here now, this message is coming to me from all angles and I can't get out from under the deluge. Friends who are not speaking to each other are suggesting book after book. SPAM is escaping my filters and suggesting I take courses in this. I'm being pummeled by the idea itself.
If you earnestly believed that the future was not dictated by some vague stochastic process or by a fate outside your control - if you believed that everything you really needed in life was yours for the having, there would be a lot less unproductive conflict in your life. Not - zero - conflict. I'm still a possessor of the faith that conflict is the engine of creativity and creativity is the work of God himself. But unproductive man-against-man-for-contrived-purpose is simply a waste of precious human resource, and therefore one of the true sins of humanity.
So I say to you in the hopes I can accomplish whatever message I am supposed to convey - that as you think, so you get.
It really is so uncomplicated. But ridiculously difficult most times.
"Remember that every physical thing, whether for you or against you, was a sustained thought before it was a thing."
- G. Behrend Ibid.
This was going to be a piece on the wonders of machinery, the ecstasy of creation, and how I discovered the beauty of machining - that is - the art of the machinist. Nothing captures me more than watching a lathe tool slicing through a piece of 1144 stressproof steel making a gorgeous spiral chip that turns from gold to blue to purple leaving behind a mirrored surface. I am in deep admiration of the master craftsmen who developed machining to a high art and built devices with tolerances of fractions of a human hair in the days before exotic materials, when a piece of wood whittled to a point was as accurate a measuring device entrusted to an apprentice. I regret the passing of their kind as we technology people automate away more of their manual tasks, relegating the art of precision to forgotten theory.
But for now I am interrupted by those angels who wish for me to say to you that I am here, where I am now, having done the things I am doing, through force of dreams. Those dreams called upon the archangels who twisted concrete outcomes to turn me into a man who has accomplished wonderful things. I wish now only for richer dreams.
And so as you speak you receive, as you pray you get, as you dream, so it is. I pass on to you my grandma's instruction: go invent radio. In that vein I offer the words of the more enlightened characters:
"Happy happy. Joy joy."
- Stimpy, "Ren and Stimpy" 1991
"So let it be written. So let it be done."
- Yul Brynner as Rameses in "The Ten Commandments" 1956