Aging, Compassion, Existence, Philosophy, Time, Wisdom, Writing

Time – I wish I had more!

I wish I had more time in the day. As I get older, I feel that I have less and less time to do the things I want to do. Is this happening to you?

A part of me thinks this is because I’m making choices to do things that take up much more of my attention, such as my research in the lab, blogging, and trying to eat healthy (preparing your own food takes lots of time).

Ah, the joys of responsible living. Well, I guess the follow-up question would be what would I like to spend my time if I had more of it?

Well, for starters, I would like to read a novel. I haven’t read a fiction novel in months. That’s kind of sad for someone like me who is an avid reader. I love to read. If I had more time, I’d also love to get more exercise and be outside to enjoy the weather.

Maybe all of this lamenting these past few weeks are symptoms that I need to stop and smell the roses (i.e., go on vacation). Stop working for a bit.

I’ve been in a kind of information overload in the research. I’m spinning off in a new direction for my projects, and it requires so much energy to carry this thing off the ground, i.e., collecting data, running experiments, preparing for grants, that I’m feeling the need to relax, just a bit.

… I do sleep well, which is awesome!

There’s the sense that time is speeding up in my life. Going faster and faster, maybe like water down a drain, or air up into a tornado. I think for some people this would be frightening, very, but I’m simply fine with it. I guess it’s normal and I’m enjoying the journey! We know where it ends for the most part. 

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Academia, Career, Philosophy, Problems to Solve, Thinking, Wisdom, Writing

Enthusiasm Expulsion

The first step in any endeavor is planning. In my project, I usually need to start with anatomy. I need to know where the parts, muscles and nerves, fit together so that when they get messed up I can pinpoint where exactly things might have gone wrong.

Obviously, the anatomy I study doesn’t involve anything human. This is entirely within another experimental system, which is the reflection of our bodies–the prototypical lab rat. Well, I don’t want to get into trouble, so I won’t go into details except to say that this is a fully justified study that could be done in no alternative way. We go through a lot of regulatory paperwork, some of which can slow down our progress, but I can see the benefit in terms of preventing unnecessary cruelty.

Now, I’m fired up for this study and can’t wait to get the ball rolling. Yes, that’s about it for this posting. I wanted to expel my enthusiasm. It’s like a feeling of being on queue for a roller coaster ride. You know you’re going to have fun and excitement, definitely going to get sick to my stomach, and certainly some screaming a long the way (oh, “my life is over!” kind of thing); and yet, I step off at the end with something to report home about.

That is science, ups and downs, and some screaming in horror along the way. It’s not for everyone.

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Existence, Humor, Philosophy, Problems to Solve, Prose, Thinking, Writing

Is this burn out?

I awoke to the hollow clang of an empty gas tank.

Too much. Can’t focus. 

This feeling of just-let-me-sleep-more always catches me off guard. I don’t expect it when it hits me. I suppose it’s nice that I can write it down here. Not a complaint, but a mere exhalation of life onto a page.

I like how I can find metaphors from everything around me to describe my experiences. I’m climbing a hill, or crawling through a dark underground hole–and you know what I’m talking about. I’m burned-out and slogging along through the mud trying to finish the simple daily tasks beset in front of me, that only yesterday seemed trivial.

Funny thing is, I know tomorrow or even 5 minutes from now, I’ll have the fire again. I don’t know where it comes from: inspiration. An intake of air that propels you forward through the day, the minutes and seconds of experience.

So I patiently wait for it, inspiring oxygen (the non-metaphorical kind), and doing what needs to be done through habit. The emotion and drive behind it, a simple twitch of muscle.

I’m an academic….maybe it’s mental fatigue. If I dig through my ear canals, I may find soot and ash. I drove this car fast and hard. Time to park this vehicle I drive in my head on a parking lot in a fancy exotic place. My bed sounds nice.

But really, I suppose it’s not burn-out. I’m stable on solid ground. I just want to do something different. So many of the same tasks ahead of me. Done that, been there. Tedium. I’ve lost the thrill.

Yet, I know, I’ve heard some wisdom on this:

“Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time.” C.S. Lewis wrote.

 

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Existence, Faith, Philosophy, Thinking, Writing

Imagine Imperfection

In a perfect world, super heroes would be useless. As I drove home the other night, that was what I was thinking. I know I’m getting a bit deeper and blunt(er) than I had anticipated for this blog, but hey, why not? Monday blues I ‘pose.

Truly, why do we create fake characters like Superman or Ironman? What is it with these fictional characters that will never exist in real life. And if you believe that these people in comic books and movies can or will exist someday in our universe then you have more faith than I do.

Crazy is another matter.

Anyway, I digress. This is my simple ramble about how we “waste” our time dreaming and pondering how great or inspirational it would be to either meet some of these fake heroes, or be them in some form or another.

I’m sure there are exceptional people who don’t get any thrill from these stories of characters with supernatural powers. But, deep down I think there is a collective and universal hope that somewhere there is something bigger, if this is the correct word, that can really change our perception of our current existence.

A collective hope for bigger.

I’m not sure we could reach this height without our imagination

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Compassion, Existence, Faith, Philosophy, Prose, Thinking, Wisdom, Writing

A Reflected Creator

Another day in the life of a neuroscientist. I’m sick with a cold. A viral infection that’s on extended vacation inside my body. How often do we get an illness and not realize that these battles within us are life-or-death.

Life for us, death for the pathogen.

This physical realm we live in is full of dangers and mortal threats. Our resilience as flesh and blood is only our ability to cope with these threats. The cells in our bodies regenerate. The immune system adapts to new invaders.

It’s war.

Then, there’s the psychological warfare with have within ourselves (ugh). This unrestrained need to survive and build ourselves up with emotional walls of stone and mortar. We are rocks unto ourselves with the single goal of making sure we aren’t ground into sand.

If all this strife is true, constant and never-ending, then kindly wake me up because this world sucks in reality.

No wonder I dream. No surprise I love stories and movies and all manner of created fictions. These fantastic tales and higher purposes we look up to are amazing and required for us to feel safe and secure.

As I am hungry, I search for food. If I am thirsty, I find drink. If I am sad, I find a friend. All physical realities that can be reached.

But what if the object I’m searching for is a fiction, an imagined thing? Am I in a fruitless search?

I suppose the only way I could find it, is to create my heart’s content. I’ll sculpt it out of clay. I’ll paint it with wonderful colors; azure, crimson, and sunshine yellows. Flesh tones and brown inks. I’ll make it beautiful and love it because I made it to fill up my longing for the simple desire to create.

My heart and mind is that of a creator. Ironically, this gives me joy.

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Academia, Compassion, Existence, Faith, Missions, Pain, Philosophy, Thinking, Time

Please, don’t jump

Life is hard: this understatement comes to my mind whenever I hear news from a friend about a tragedy in an individual’s life. There are some situations in which there appears no escape, like being trapped on the roof of a burning building. I guess you could jump off the side and end it quickly.

What would I do in an impossible situation?

I hear of a friend who has lost her job, she’s 58, single and has to stay home to care for her sick mother (who has dementia). She’s depressed and lonely, as many of us would be in such a situation.

I also learn of a colleague who has a broken family because of a husband’s mental disorder, and she is trying to keep it together. She doesn’t have control over the situation and can only grasp what she can, her kids and finances (maybe not the finances so much anymore).

So much, craziness in this life. I wish I could wave a wand and say it would all be better if they would “wait a bit longer”, but that isn’t a genuine answer. The truth is, I don’t know if a person’s situation gets better in this life. Suffering is the norm, not the exception for people.

I listen to them, more than speak, because it’s the best I can do. In general, I know my mouth can’t speak too much lest I give them something they can’t handle right away.

And that is the Truth. It comes back to the burning building. You’re trapped on the roof, the smoke is rising, darkness filling up all around. I would say, if I could, that the escape route is up.

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Existence, Faith, Philosophy, Problems to Solve, Thinking, Wisdom, Writing

One of Many

Immortality. I’ve been watching some documentaries, or kind of listening to them while doing some mundane work, and the idea that humans could potentially live forever, biologically, is so fascinating.

If our bodies are machines, then the parts that comprise our bodies should be replaceable or repairable. Perhaps one day there will be a replacement for a broken spinal cord or a dysfunctional vital organ, like a bad liver or lung. I think this is definitely possible.

Let’s play a thought experiment:

Take all the parts of a human being, lay them out on the floor (a clean one at that!), and then by some incredible procedure put them together in the right place, just as we would with do-it-yourself furniture. We make a human body from its individual parts. Let’s say this is possible.

Now, at least for me, there is the problem.

I cannot envision the “spark” that would trigger the body to awake and live. In the story Frankenstein, the creature awoke from lightning, but seriously, what would this particular life force start? In the brain? Well, really the brain is more than just a single part; which of the brain parts would you start first? The breathing or the heart?

I think the spark, or part of the ‘awake’ issue, comes back to the magical things that happen during development in the mother’s womb. There’s a developmental process here, or a slow incubation, like fermented alcohol in the making of a fine wine that needs to happen for a biological organism as complicated as ours to become alive in every sense of the word “alive”.

I suppose I’m thinking back to the origins of human existence, my existence, in biological speak. I’m a vehicle that carries me, which is…. the soul?

I’m a machine, but I am more because I write. Through words on a piece of paper, I can speak to the future people who have yet to be born. Moreover, I can listen to the thoughts of the dead by reading their words.

Machines cannot put meanings in symbols, words, and record them in a way that conveys personalities and characteristics. Some may argue this; that this is yet to come in the future for machine artificial intelligence.

But, there’s a deeper sense that we are special creatures.

Anyway, I’m just thinking on this peaceful Friday afternoon. And I think that this post would end nicely with a dead guy speaking:

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” ~C.S. Lewis

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