I was at an antique mall a little while ago, browsing vintage postcards. I was reading the backs of them; short little stories written by everyday people about everyday things. “The weather is nice here”; “I received your message”; “I’ll be home on the 27th”; “I saw such-and-such yesterday”; and so on. What did occur to me is that all of these people, who had all sorts of everyday concerns, are all dead now. Macabre, but true. What about us? Are we getting so bogged down in our everyday lives that we forget that, one day, they’re going to end? Are we doing the things in our life that are really important, or are we oblivious to what they even are?
Something to think about: What accomplishment of yours are you the most proud of that meets the following three criteria:
- The accomplishment is something that you chose to do
- You accomplished the accomplishment primarily through your own effort (not by others’ efforts, luck, natural processes, and so on)
- Simply choosing to do the task did not make the accomplishment inevitable.
I found that it took a while to come up with something that met all three criteria. What’s your biggest such accomplishment?
The world didn’t end yesterday as Harold Camping predicted it did. This won’t come as a surprise to most people. What did come as a surprise to me at least was how this prediction captured the public imagination, not just among were those that believed in the prophecy, but among the (presumably sceptical) general public, who googled it, tweeted about it, joked about it, and attended “rapture parties” scheduled for after the hour of the rapture.
There are other predictions for the “end of the world” occurring in the near future. I would suspect Camping will tweak something in his math so that the end of the world will occur on October 21st instead of May 21st. If that doesn’t happen either, according to the Mayan Long Count calendar, the world will be ending on December 12, 2012. This date has already received a lot of publicity and no doubt will be getting more as we get closer to the date. Once that doesn’t happen, I’m sure there will be predictions of some environmental mega-disaster or something like that that will get traction.
While it is kind of fun to joke about things like this, there is a potential problem. If we’re all thinking about the end of the world, we may neglect to try to improve the world as it currently is. Why think about the future if there isn’t going to be one? If too many people are thinking about the end of the world, we’re going to miss the opportunity to create a better future for everyone.
With that in mind, I’m going to talk more about the future and the end in a future post.
There is a greenbelt a short walk away from my home. People walk through it, going from somewhere to somewhere else, and there is a bit of a beaten path that runs through it. What always interests me is that the path isn’t straight. There are bends in the path for no apparent reason, in areas of the greenbelt that are completely flat and obstacle-free. Probably you live near a greenbelt, and, assuming it’s not completely covered with snow right now, you’ll likely notice similar winding paths.
It’s not hard to understand why it remains like that (less resistance following a path that’s already been beaten down rather than making a new one) but how did it get like this in the first place? Were there obstacles at some point in the past that someone had to walk around, or did someone just wander and/or misstep at one point and ended up creating the somewhat winding path that someone else followed, until the bent path was beaten down?
I now want to use this idea of paths as a metaphor for our thinking. Do we think in the most direct manner possible, or do our thoughts wander all around the place for reasons that haven’t existed for years? Could we get things done a lot faster if we could think more directly?
I got a copy of the New York Post today. Don’t usually get a hardcopy of a NYC newspaper, so that was kind of interesting. One of the things that struck me was the volume of unusual stories, including stories about:
- A bus rider who attacked the driver for driving too slow
- A woman accused of robbery spending seven months in jail despite being in a different state at the time of the robberies
- Three city welfare workers who created 1,500 fake poor people in order to scam food stamps
- Keith Richards having killed an orchid
- Someone who robbed a store getting caught because he was recognised by an employee as a frequent customer
- A hawk with a Facebook page and a paparazzo
…and so on. When you think about it though, New York City has a lot more people than my city, so it’s only natural that a lot of weird things are going to happen there every day. So, one could conclude that in a world of over 6 billion people, there are going to be a lot of very weird things happening every day. What would the contents of a world newspaper be?