Reflection 289: All by Myself

July 7, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin

I had a powerful dream last night in which I was fully engaged. My idea was that I could tell the detailed composition of gases in Earth’s atmosphere through a program of intensive research around the globe. I could figure the percentage for one gas in one location, and other gases in other locations. I had worked out a very elaborate scheme that would take years to complete. I traveled to an Eastern European university to tell the faculty about my idea, and they listened, but two members broke into a slow folk dance associated with weddings, the gist of the dance being—Why not just do it?, that is, look it up.

I suddenly realized I didn’t have to do the work all by myself because others had done it before me. That came as a revelation. My idea was redundant and unnecessary, no matter how important it might seem to me.

I lay in bed reliving the dream. All the pictures of wildflowers I’d taken this past week were unnecessary. Better pictures were already available, I didn’t have to drive myself so hard to do the work myself. Then I got to the crux of the dream. All the blogging about introspection and consciousness—that, too, was unnecessary. Countless others had their own ideas about what I was figuring out for myself, making my struggles to understand my own mind redundant and unnecessary. Why was I working so hard at figuring what was either unknowable or already known?

Those thoughts reflected the climate in my mind as I’ve written recent posts to my blog. I was driven to write, even though I was pushing past the limits of my understanding, striving for insights that didn’t exist. I have always thought that if I pushed myself hard enough, I could figure anything out. Not true. I was out of my depth—like Wiley Coyote out past the brink of the cliff, legs still pumping thin air.

Hand waving it’s called, going through all sorts of commotions to accomplish nothing at all. My dream invented a language for exposing the whole scheme. “I can do it all by myself!” asserts the three-year-old. Trouble is, I’m seventy-nine.

I’m trying to figure the unfigurable before I wink out. Even though each one of us is given a life to make sense of in his or her own way. I can’t do it for all humanity, though that’s the goal I’ve set myself as I approach the edge of the cliff. The great work; If I don’t do it, who will?

Anyway, I had this dream last night, and I’m still reeling from the effect.

Y’r humbled friend, –Steve

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