MUSIC IS TIME TRAVEL

That music is time travel for those who listen to it is such a basic idea that we hardly need to present proof. Still as an example, when many people reach a certain age, even when they can listen to all the available music in the world on iTunes or Amazon Music, they return to the same old songs from their past, mostly from adolescence.

Not everybody does this, but it’s common.

They listen to the songs they loved as teenagers, maybe even as they were going through puberty, and they feel emotionally connected to the past. They relive it in their imaginations.

But what about Time traveling for the artist?

Artists, writers, and musicians know that there is such thing as arriving in the Zone, or whatsome neuroscientists call Flow.

It can be defined as the times wherein you are so absorbed in the creative act that everything disappears and you lose sense of time. You are completely inside of the work.

When you come out, when you’re interrupted by something like a pounding on the door, you immediately lose the Flow or come out of the Zone.

This experience is similar to The Writer’s High.

When an artist arrives in the Zone, space-time doesn’t exist.

There’s no arrow of time.

There is no matter and thus no laws of classical mechanics, which means that the artist in the Zone can time travel.

Physicists agree that theoretically time travel is possible, but nobody can do it because we are matter and matter cannot travel faster than the speed of light nor can it go through an event horizon into a wormhole without being torn into pieces, completely obliterated.

However, artists in the Zone appear in other space-times, non-spatial realms, places of the imagination, the astral plane.

A poet who follows her language and ends up in the Zone or experiencing Flow will often run into spirits of the dead.

If you follow language, you sometimes hear voices that come from somewhere else, maybe an old text you read but forgot about, or a sentence you overheard in a coffee shop, or something your abuela used to tell you when she was alive.

The dead come to us in Flow.

Think of improvisational Jazz, a sax player hears a rhythm and follows it.

As they are in the Zone, they hear the bop of another beat, distant but getting closer, and they pick it up, play with it, follow it up and down, all around, back and forth. They may very well be channeling the spirit-sound from a musician long dead or a song sung to them when they were kids.

Music is time travel.

Later I’ll write about how the music you choose to listen to over and over again, especially as you age, can begin to shrink your ability to time travel or to appear in the zone, but for now, I want to show proof of an artist who time traveled.

Or, to be fair, who time travels NOW, because although this artist is long dead, he’s still out there in the Zone.

The example is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op. 2 No. 3.

(Hmm, I won’t go into the numerology of it, 3+3+2, the number eight, which circles around and around like an infinity sign.)

I admire his work, but until I heard this piece, I never thought of him as great as Bach, who spends so much time in the Zone that he can appear anywhere and anytime unannounced, even in a Led Zeppelin riff or jazz improvisation.

But in this Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, we can map his journey into the Zone.

To experience this, imagine here’s what happened:

One early morning, Ludwig, still in his Ebenezer Scrooge nightgown, walks to his piano, sits down, still glowing from a peaceful night’s sleep.

He begins to play a tune he heard in his dream.

It’s very early, still dark outside.

Everybody else is sleeping.

He starts to play.

Nothing special.

But listen to it, and imagine each note is a step along a path leading into something, a forest, a garden, a portal, a wormhole. He may or may not have been conscious of where he was going as he was playing that morning, because he’s following the music from the dream.

The player in the link I provide is Lang Lang, a badass pianist who I’m sure spends a lot of time in the zone.

At the 1:14 seconds mark, the portal opens.

He falls into the future.

He communicates with multiple artists who are also in the Zone, maybe Philip Glass is there, Thelonious Monk, maybe Ludovico Einaudi, and because there’s no time-space in the Zone, all can be in there at the same time, although this is ineffable, because there is no time.

Every time you enter into the zone, you enter into every  time.

So after 1:14 seconds in this video of Lang Lang, Beethoven falls into a wormhole, and the music become dances, geometrical rhythms, triangles and circles, spirits of the New Age, entities outside of his own time-space.

Listen. At exactly the 1:14 mark.

(Sorry if you have to sit through part of a commercial before the music begins)

But go with Ludwig.

Follow him with your imagination, not your intellect.

Do you see the breach?

Lang Lang in the Zone with Ludwig.

THE PEACH IS A WORMHOLE

This morning, when it was still dark and the room was lit by candles, I picked up my coffee mug.  I like my coffee strong and bold, and I took a drink, but it tasted like a peach. 

I felt like I had taken a sip of an entire peach, bitter and fuzzy.

And I realized the peach is a wormhole.

There are times when we taste something, even if it’s something we eat often, a cheesy cracker, a donut, and for some reason and for only a flash our brain tells us that we’re tasting something entirely different. We might take a bite from a chocolate bar, but for a pop not-even-a-second we taste broccoli.

We usually ignore these moments, shift our focus back to “reality,” and the next bite tastes like a chocolate bar, like it’s supposed to.

These are seemingly meaningless moments of life.

But perhaps when those moments come, if I allow my imagination to play with the idea that there is a reason why my coffee tastes like a peach, I might be able to see other slices of reality.

I’m not only experiencing the thing in front of me, the coffee, but my neural network is lighting up all over my brain, moving around like an aerial view of LA freeways.

Other tastes are evoked in my memory, other flavors linked to emotional experiences throughout my life.

When my coffee tastes like a peach, all times of my life from birth to death come together.

The peach is a wormhole, and it allows me to time travel. 

Dare I eat one?

WRITERS ARE WITCHES

I’m writing a collection of essays called Writers are Witches

The pieces are somewhat thematically connected (mostly about physics, mysticism, and the craft of writing), but the title comes from my belief that great poets, that is, ALL great creative writers enter into realms of the imagination most people do not have access to without guidance by a spirit, i.e, the writer.

These imaginary worlds have been identified by mystics and hermetic thinkers as the astral plane, the underworld, infinite field, a place not in space wherein one can have conversations with angels. 

In other words, to be a writer is to be a mystic or a witch, one who accesses these realms and often channels energy from within and releases it into our world, usually for a particular purpose.

When I read a good novel, like something by Toni Morrison, I’m enchanted.

The etymology is pretty obvious, yes?

Enchant. “To  cast a spell upon (often one that attracts or charms).”

Obviously chant is to intone something over and over, rhythmically, poetically, like how writers follow language and end up with new rhythms and incantations and in new places that surprise  even the writer.

THE HARD PROBLEM OF POETRY

Today I’m going to interview philosopher Philip Goff about his book Galileo’s Error, for Words on a Wire, to air in our 11th season in the Fall 2021. 

It’s about the Hard Problem of consciousness, which is the question of how a physical system, the body, can create conscious experience, or qualia, like the taste of a carne asada burrito, or that first glimpse into the eyes of your lover. 

Scientists have three major solutions to the Hard Problem, one of which is Duality, that the mind and the brain are separate entities. In this theory, consciousness may be correlated to brain activity, but it’s separate from the material brain. We have a soul, if you will. We are eternal beings, or at the very least connected to the Eternal, through our consiousness. 

This is the belief held by most people and rejected by most scientists.

Scientists hate duality. 

They want a grand unified Theory of Everything. 

The two other approaches either say that consciousness doesn’t exist at all (Materialism) or that consciousness is a fundamental element of the universe (Panpsychism), as fundamental to the workings of reality as space and time and matter. (I like this idea and will play with the metaphors in future musings)

The Hard Problem will not be easily solved, but I’ve noticed a lot of physicists, who speak on the level of math, are getting into neuroscience these days, perhaps to escape the academic myopia that tends to pop up in science departments throughout history. I’m not saying they have to beware of string theory Nazis or whatever is going on in their department, just that there is solid evidence that even science departments can be so subjective as to ostracize those seeking unconventional explanations that don’t conform with popular theories. That’s all I’m saying.

Whether or not it has anything to do with the physicists, neuroscience is discovering new mathematical descriptions of brain activity and correlations with consciousness. 

They can brilliantly express equations that depict brain activity during conscious experience, but they cannot explain WHY brain activity produces my experience of biting into that juicy carne asada burrito.  

They can’t explain what I, Daniel Chacón, or you, are experiencing right now, and why. 

This hard problem is to  neuroscience what the unity problem is to physicists, uniting relativity with quantum theory. 

Goff writes, “We’re still waiting for the Newton of consciousness to produce the simple equation that will capture the connection between body and mind. “

When it comes to who we are, science has not been able to help us answer that question, at least not yet. 

Scientists can explain HOW we are this way, but not WHY.  

Goff claims that Galileo, who was the first one to establish math as the language of science, never intended to describe the quality of experience, but rather the quantitative experience of things.

How things behave, not why.

How a carne asada burrito behaves in relation to other matter and space and time, but not the intrinsic nature of a delicious burrito. Or taco for that matter.

(By stating burrito, you can tell a lot about me, that I’m a Chicanx person, as we may favor burritos over the tacos that might be the first choice of our Mexicanx neighbors. )

The problem with scientists trying to explain qualia is that they don’t have the language for it. What is the mathematical equation for my experience of biting into a juicy mango?

Or for that matter what is the equation that describes my intrinsic nature?

For that you need the philosopher.

For that you need the poet.

IMAGINATION AND THE PERFECT NEUROSCIENCE METAPHOR

Most people rarely access the imagination.

That doesn’t mean they don’t daydream, “imagine” things in the sense that they picture what they want, like a new car or a great vacation, or they picture what they don’t want, like their lover leaving them for another lover.

In that sense people “imagine.”

But that’s not imagination.

Those are thoughts and patterns of familiar narratives or cultural memes that help you understand your own reality, that which filter out phenomenon that doesn’t serve your world view or provide answers that you need for immediate problems.

It’s a perfect neuroscience metaphor that the older you get the more the right side of your brain deteriorates, that is, the creative half, much faster than the left. The logical side of your brain, the mathematical side, the side that recognizes patterns stays younger longer, so even if you’re experiencing cognitive decline, your ability to recognize patterns could allow you to appear to others as wise.

Even one who suffers from Alzheimer’s, like Ronald Reagan, can be president. Elkhonon Goldberg calls this wisdom, or at least claims that part of wisdom is this instant access to patterns accumulated over a lifetime.

The older we get the more we use pattern recognition over imagination.

As a young man Einstein imagined himself chasing after light beams, as an older man he tried to find the patterns that would connect the known forces of physics, to find the unified theory.

His failure was one of imagination.

Few people can enter into the realms of the imagination, those places that have been visited by great creators, like the said Einstein or the great Tony Morrison, two geniuses of exceptional access to the imaginal.

However, everybody has experienced the imaginary realms.

This can happen to mostly anyone:

Maybe you’re doing nothing, maybe sitting on the grass on a nice day in a park. You look up in the tree and you see leaves twittering and sparkling with light, maybe a bird tritely whistling a tune, and you suddenly feel something, connected.

You’re not thinking about it, but you’re somewhere beyond thought, at least you are for a moment, before the patterns and thoughts began to emerge and you filter out the experience to have a singular meaning.

These moments are wormholes into the imaginary realms, and if you go into them, what you see and experience is not dependent on your tendency to observe phenomenon with a cause-and-effect filter.

In fact, The Writer’s High is the wormhole into pure imagination, the astral plane, as it were.

Poets (and I would argue scientists and mystics) can enter into these realms quite often, which is why they are so critical to human survival.

What exists in those realms is connection with the pure source of creativity, God, creativity, whatever you want to call it, Will, Desire, the Ein sof. Imagination is one of the things in life that make us want to live, even among suffering.

Science and Storytelling

Some students in my Writer and The Brain class turned me on to The Storytelling Animal by Johnathan Gottschall, which I am halfway through and am loving. 

Here’s a great quote:

“From Science, I argue, can help us make sense of storytelling. But some say that science is a grand story (albeit with hypothesis testing) that emerges from our need to make sense of the world. The storylike character of science is most obvious when it deals with origins: of the universe. . .”

And this is what I am trying to say with The Poet and the Mind-Brain :

Theoretical branches of science, found mostly in the unification problem in physics and the hard problem in neuroscience seek to tell two of the most fundamental stories humans need to hear, how did it all begin, and who am I?

This is why writers are like scientists. 

These are the two stories that impel us to write, albeit articulated differently according to the writer.  

Instead of wondering how the universe began, the poet might wonder why does my heart feel so bad? Or why does the school bus stopping on the corner under the oak tree make me want to cry?

I would argue poetic details are microcosms of the two fundamental stories we seek to understand. 

Poets matter, because we seek to know the unknowable, and we will never stop until we find that ineffable elegant equation that says it all. 

Writers Are Magick

The subtitle of The Poet and the Mind-Brian is:

Science, Philosophy, and Magick, with a k.

When I use the word magick, with a K at the end, I’m not identifying with Aleister Crowley, who coined the term, and has been called the most evil man in the world.

And he was pretty evil, and vile.

For a quick, enjoyable read of his life and significance to witchcraft, read Gary Lachman’s Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World.

He did some evil, messed up stuff, and he was incredibly misogynist and racist.

But he also had intense moments of focus, flashes of genius, wherein he was so absorbed into metaphysics that he was able to create his own religion, Thelema, whose concepts remain influential even today in esoteric communities.

His influence is rooted in many traditions of witchcraft, including Gerald Gardener’s version of Wicca.

I put a K at the end of the word magick to distinguish between the practice of magic, that is witchcraft, sorcery, esoteric practice, and magic the way we use the word colloquially.

If I say, My day was magic! –My visit to Mexico City was magic !–

My date night with my wife was magic!– I don’t mean someone cast a spell.

Magic can means many things, but when I use the word magick, it means one thing:

The practice of directing energy from one source or many into manifesting some goal in the material world, the practice of channeling energy, an action is rooted in a basic concept of reality, which has traditionally been articulated As above, so below.

Magick uses and manipulates energies (sprits, quantum fields, faith and prayer) to achieve material goals. Magick is the ability to focus.

That’s what I mean by magick.

It doesn’t necessarily mean witchcraft.

It is the act of manipulating and using energy, often without our conscious awareness that we are doing it.

That’s what writers do.

That’s what mystics do.

When Saint Teresa allowed her body to seep into ecstasy, wherein her flesh trembled and she felt as if she were corporally connected to God, that was channeling energy.

That is what I mean by magick.

Every good work of art starts with Energy, Desire, Will –with unformed energy that does not yet have image or meaning. Pure energy.

That’s what I mean by magick.

WANT

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO WANT?

In Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari closes the book with this question.

I’m convinced this may be the most important question you can ask yourself. 

If you are prone to “know thyself,” if you seek meaning in life, want to know what is beyond the physical veil of reality, if you are comfortable in a world where there are only questions, each of which have multiple legitimate answers and even more silly answers, then this is the fundamental question:

What do you want to want?

Not, Who am I? 

Why did God put me here? 

What’s the meaning of life? 

Whereas all these questions are important and can lead to great metaphysical pleasure and insight, none of them are fundamental.  

We are humans. 

We are energy and organic matter. 

This energy that makes us human and that causes us to grow from a sperm seeking an egg into a child wanting juice, an adult working to make more money, an old person sitting on a porch looking off onto the trees and wanting to paint them or write a poem, is desire.

But I wouldn’t call it wont, nor would I find the question is what do you want to want, although the poetry is much better, I would rather say what do you want to do with your desire?

Primary desire, that which makes us human, is unformed in its purest manifestation.

It has no image. Desire is pure energy that expands.

Humans have a brain that seeks happiness, pleasure, good feeling. 

We want to be happy.  Perhaps Happy is Desire’s first manifestation, the Understanding, the Binah on the Tree of Life, whereas Desire would be Keter, or crown.

Although happy is more limited than desire it nonetheless is still an unformed energy. Happiness in its purest form has no shape, no image.

And often times, when it finally reaches our consciousness, way down here on the bottom of the tree, some of us think to be happy is something material, a family, our own business, a vacation in Cancun, or even to go shopping and buy this and that. 

We want more and more of what makes us happy. 

But what makes us happy are simply neurotransmitters and hormones, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.

What we THINK makes us happy is what we want. 

Want is the last and the least manifestation of primary desire.

Want is temporal, material, and it is at home in the everyday world (malkuth) within which we struggle to be happy.

We think that what makes us happy is to get what we want.

But want is the least of all desire.

But no judgement here, because if that’s all you want, that chemical experience of happiness, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting more, shopping every day on Amazon, clicking here and there and buying this and that, because every time you do it,  your body produces neurotransmitters that frankly make you happy.  

But if that’s not enough. Some people need meaning.

Meaning could be the other unformed manifestation of primary desire.

Desire is at the top, the emanation, and it comes down and is beginning to take form as “happy” and “meaningful.”

This is your power. This is your energy. To filter it though want weakens it. So we get back to Harari’s question, what do you want to want?

What I want is not to want, but to return to desire, and to be able channel that energy into my life.

Ok, maybe I’m being a bit woo woo.

Desire creates the idea of happy and the idea of meaning.  

Humans are meaning-seeking machines, who want to be happy. There is no happy without meaning. They are the first manifestations of desire, and you cannot live a balanced life without them working together.

Thoughtful people look for, find, or spontaneously discover meaning in absolutely everything.  

You could behold the most beautiful sunset ever, and you will not only have a sense of pleasure and well-being, but a deep belief that you are connected to something beyond yourself, something meaningful. 

Want is at the very bottom, but we often fail to see a difference between what we want and what makes us happy, because we think what we want will make us happy. 

What we want can sever us from primary desire. When we obtain material wants, we usually –after a brief experience of pleasure –want more. We go back to being dissatisfied.

But what we what want is not a material item, we can begin to understand who we are.  

Does this make sense?

What you want reveals who you are.

If you want a child, family, riches and fame, that tells you what is fundamentally important to you.  

For most of us, even the most religious, what we want has a little to do with religion or ideology.

Our belief systems are simply scaffolding over reality, not foundations.

We find the belief (or it is given to us and we never question it) that we share with our community, and we know it as vague metaphorical narratives, but they have little to do with our everyday experience. We can take  religious narrative and scaffold it over our own lives, but it is not fundamental to how and why we live.

YET the core belief in any spiritual system is some sort of unification with God, an eternal relationship with the source.

Love. 

Love is unity. 

Love is community.

Love is kind.

Maybe love is the creation of desire, happy, and meaningful.

Love could be what you want to want.

The Perfect Metaphor For What It’s Like To Be a Writer

This morning, sitting in traffic on the freeway, I thought of a great metaphor for being a writer.

You know how when you’re sitting on a plane and it’s about to take off, perhaps it’s moving slowly, and the flight attendant is standing in the middle of the aisle demonstrating the safety procedures?

oxygenmask

They tell you how to snap the seatbelt, how to use an oxygen mask.

They always tell you that in the event of losing cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will fall from the top.

And then they say this every single time:

If you have a small child with you, put your mask on first before you put it on the child.

 And I’m almost certain that everybody or almost everybody, like me, is thinking, Hell no!

child ox

I understand the logic of it. If I don’t put on my mask first, I may faint trying to help my baby, but nonetheless my instinct tells me no.

If I have my baby next to me on that seat, I am going to put on her mask first, so if somebody faints it’s not her.

I don’t care if I lose air and pass out. She comes first.

It would be interesting to know how many parents would actually put their mask on first. There’s something fundamental wrong about that idea, even though I know it’s logical and that it’s the “right” idea, in the world of malkuth.

But your love for that baby rises so much higher than established actions.

Your love for your child, your love for the one who is dependent on you is so great that you would give up your life.

Her life is first.

Well, That’s a perfect metaphor for writing.

snoopytypes

Because no matter what is happening in the life of a writer, they will put writing first.

If they found they suddenly had a terminal disease and only two months to live, like my friend the poet Andres Montoya, who found out he was going to die when he was 30 years old, they are going to do what he did.

He spent days and nights on his deathbed with a pen and a notepad writing poetry to God, writing letters to family, writing. He had a little time left.

You could read some of the poems he wrote while he was in his deathbed, knowing he was going to die, in his posthumous book a jury of treesby Andres Montoya.

jury of trees

I don’t care how much time a writers has, whether it’s 30 seconds, a minute, or even an hour, a writer is going to put the oxygen mask on their child (their work) before they’re going to worry about whether or not they will faint.

That is to say, that a writer (not all of them) puts writing first.

But THIS ISN’T TO SAY that a writer cannot love their family above all else, their children above all else, their social responsibility above all else; it rather means that all those things they love are encompassed and inseparable from the act of writing.

I have a daughter.

If I was on my death bed, with a month left to live, I’d would probably be writing her letters and stories and poems.

#trafficthink

Water is Lazy Or, Why You Always End up With Jerks

heart-espresso

I love the boy who made my coffee.

I don’t know his name, and I only saw him once in a London café that I’ll probably never be able to find again, but I’ll never forget him.

I don’t remember what he looks like, but I remember what he said to me.

All week before I had encountered him, I was reading about special relativity for for dummies and it became clear to me that Intuition can be great, that it can often lead you to optimal paths in life, but what is intuitive about nature is not always true.

Intuition cannot describe reality.

A significant example is what Galileo discovered when he dropped two balls of differing weights off the Tower of Pisa. Everyone thought that the heavier ball would reach the ground first.

It makes sense.

It’s intuitive. If you drop a big, heavy rock and you drop a pencil, intuition tells you that the rock would hit the ground first.

Galileo's falling bodies experiment

But, of course, intuition is wrong.

They will hit the ground at the same time. The bigger they are the harder they may fall, but they don’t fall first.

When the first people landed on the moon, they tested this theory with a metal hammer and a feather, because on the moon there would be no wind resistance for the feather, just the gravitational and inertial masses of the object. Sure enough, the hammer and the feather hit the ground at the exact same time.

Here’s a short video of that experiment:

Intuition tells you that if you threw a ball as hard as you could across a field,  it would take longer to reach the ground than if you simply opened your hand and dropped it. But they will hit the ground at the same time.

That week in London I was re-reading some of physics texts, and I saw that Newton punked our intuition by equating gravitational mass and inertial mass.

Easy enough, yes?

But I never understood this idea. I barely graduated with my BA, because of the general math requirement.

Inertia

I basically know (I think) what gravitational mass is, the mass of an object that will cause it to fall from the Tower of Pisa, yes?

If you drop a rock to the ground, it will be attracted to the larger object, the earth. Small bodies are attracted to larger bodies. The earth is attracted to the sun and orbits the sun, not the other way around.

Here’s some disappointing news to poets:

The sun never sets.

There is only the earth making another revolution around the sun.

Many of the metaphors of physics are accessible to lay people, but inertial mass I couldn’t quite grasp.

Until I met the barista I love.

I went in to order a coffee, which as you know in Europe generally means an espresso, and the barista was a young man in his 20s.

hipster barista
This isn’t really him, just a stock image I found on google image search 🙂 I don’t remember what he looks like.

I imagine he was hip-looking, maybe an earring, a beard, but I remember watching him pack the coffee powder into the metal cup. He smashed it down and down. Packed it good.

packing coffee

Wow, I said, you’re really making sure that the grounds are packed in there.

Yeah, he said, water is lazy.

What?

Water is lazy. If you don’t pack it in there it’ll just find the easiest way to make it through the grounds, and the cup won’t be as pure.

That’s it! That’s inertia!

In Euclidean geometry a geodesic is the shortest and straightest line between two points. Apparently it gets more complex when you’re talking about non-Euclidean geometry of space-time, but for our purposes, it is basically how a body under the influence of a force will find the easiest way to travel.

Bertrand Russell called this “the law of cosmic laziness.”

The apple falls from the tree, straight down to the ground, because it’s too lazy to take any other route. With the earth spinning and the universe expanding faster than the speed of light, why doesn’t the apple go sideways around the earth or up unto the stars? It would be logical to expect the apple to fall away from the tree, since the earth is moving, but it falls straight down, the easiest path to recover its inertia.

Apple

Why doesn’t the apple fall far from the tree?

Because it’s easier and shorter to give in to the earth’s gravitational pull and fall straight down on the head of some poor sap sitting underneath the tree than it is to fly off to a destiny of its own choosing.

All objects, including our bodies, are moving through space-time.

Einstein showed us that there is no such thing as space.

There is no such thing as time.

There is only space-time.

One without the other is impossible.

Space is meaningless without time.

If I said, OK, let’s meet at the big rock in the middle of the field, you would understand me.

But you would probably never find me.

I might go there at midnight, under the light of the moon, whereas you might go at 3 PM, under the blazing sun.

Space without time is meaningless.

And time without space is meaningless.

I’ll be some place in five minutes! I say. Hope to see you.

Great, you say. Where will you be?

There is only space-time, and we are moving through it at more or less a constant  velocity.

We have an initial framework, which frames our sense of reality depending on how fast we move through space-time.

If we aren’t moving much through space, like we’re sitting in an armchair with a beer, we are still moving through time at a constant velocity.

lazy dog

That inertia will remain constant unless a force is acted upon us.

Before the apple even falls from the tree, it is moving through space-time at a constant velocity, and now that it is detached from the tree, it doesn’t want to work. It wants to remain at the same velocity.

So it takes the shortest possible path it can.

Straight down.

The easiest path.

The Apple is lazy. And lazy means not wanting to work.

The reason why a heavy object falls at the same time as a lighter object is its resistance to a force acting upon it, that is, the big guy doesn’t want to work anymore than the little guy.

Not to get all Philip Levine on your ass, but let me say What Work Is:

What_work_is

Work happens when a force acts upon mass in such a way that it accelerates it through space-time.

That’s work.

Moving a massive object like a dead body across a floor with force is work.

When I became a college professor, my dad used to tease me. He’d say, “Boy, what you do ain’t real work!”

It wasn’t real work to him, because I wasn’t lifting heavy objects and moving them from one place to another.

But as a writer, I transfer creative energy from my mind to my fingers, which causes them to accelerate and type the words onto my laptop screen, and thus, writing is working.

The heavy sphere would rather say to Galileo, “Please don’t drop me!  I don’t want to work. I’m going to resist as much as possible, because I just want to kick up here on the tower with my homies.”

(I should tell of the day I spent in Pisa, at an outdoor café with a view of the Tower, how I ordered a long lunch, three hours, and went through two bottles of wine and then had an espresso. But it would take a lot of work to write about that, so I’m not going to do it just yet.)

The heavier sphere puts up resistance to gravity, the force that wants it to work, and because it’s heavier than the lighter object, it puts up more resistance than then lighter one.

Newtonian physics argues that the more gravitational mass there is to an object, the stronger the inertia, that is, the objects desire to stay at a constant velocity.

Here’s the elegant formula:

f=ma

(I think. Like I said, I don’t understand the equations, but I get that they are elegant, that they say a lot in pithy language, mathematical haikus.)

When a heavy object falls , it doesn’t want to change velocity, so its inertial mass will resist the fall, and because it’s heavy, its inertial mass is stronger than the light object’s inertial mass.

A lighter object does not have as much resistance, because it’s not as heavy, and the pull of gravity acts on it more effectively. The inertia and the force equal out, and they hit the ground at the same time.

I’m not a scientist, so I write none of this with authority. I’m just trying to understand the basic concept of inertia and gravity. Just for fun.

So when this London barista told me that water is lazy, a light went on in my head.

Of course, you have to pack the coffee in the espresso maker!

Of course you do!

If you didn’t pack it tight, the water would take the easiest path through the grounds.

water in coffee

It would swirl in between the loose coffee grounds, wherever is the least resistance to change.

But if the barista packs it in hard, the water has no choice but to force its way through the ground into my cup, thus making a more pure coffee.

Water is lazy.

But how does this apply to us? How does this apply to the reason why we always end up with jerks?

I believe:

If a system like physics attempts to describe reality, we should be able to extract the metaphors and apply them to any system’s attempt to describe reality.

Like Blake says, All religions are the same.

A system that describes Reality, Truth, and the Theory of Everything needs metaphor in order to be understood. If those metaphors are close to describing something True, they should describe concepts outside of that metaphorical system.

The Bible teaches, You reap what you sow. The Buddhists might use metaphors around karma. Physicists might say how for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Different metaphors describe the same Truth.

newton every action

Assume we all have an inertial framework, that is, we move through time and space more or less at a constant velocity, only speeding up when there is a force acting upon us.

We wake up in the morning, have coffee, go to work, feed the kids, whatever it is we do, and we get to the point of inertia where we just repeat what we do over and over again at the same speed. We become comfortable with this.

And this could be the case even psychologically, or mentally, the way we think. Many of us do not think outside of our framework, we do not think outside of the reality that we have accepted.

As you age, one of the ways to lose the agility of your brain is to quit reading, or not to read it all, or not to challenge yourself with new, mental work. We want to stay where we are.

And, here’s the kicker:

If you always end up with jerks, that’s why you always end up with jerks.

If we are used to what we have experienced, whether conscious it or not, whether the apple is aware of it or not, we want to take the easiest path, we want to stay within our inertial framework.

One’s inertial frame work seems to determine one’s sense of reality, including the field in which we live, time and space.

If I am on a train moving through the landscape close to the speed of light, and there are no windows indicating that I am moving and there is no acceleration, my inertial framework tells me I am at rest.

If you were standing on the train station platform watching my train pass, your framework tells you that I am moving very quickly and you are at rest.

Our inertial frameworks provide us with our sense of reality and stability.

If we are at a party, and there are many people in the room, when the door opens and a jerk walks in, our initial framework will attract us to that jerk, because it’s the easiest path. We don’t need to work, we just need to repeat or to stay at a constant velocity where we are emotionally and spiritually.

I’m not talking about the brain, the thought, which will tells us we DON’T want to meet another jerk. The brain is an organ, and although we put a lot of value upon it as humans, it’s still part of our physiology, still under the laws of physics, and sometimes the brain is lazy and helps us to remain inert and tells us, This one will be different.

We keep ending up with jerks because it is the easiest path, it is the psychological geodesic.

We keep repeating the same mistakes, even when we complain about them, even when we feel guilty, or feel worthless, and those feelings of guilt and worthlessness become part of our inertial framework, our reality, and that’s where we will stay, unless there is a force that acts upon us.

We resist anything else. We are like a falling object, the heavier our thoughts and emotions and those things that enslave us, the more we resist the change, the force.

But we are fortunate to be humans, because we have the ability to invite forces into our lives!

We can allow forces us to move away from our inertial framework and to make decisions that are more optimal, to stay away from the jerks.

And many amazing people that I know live their lives like this, writers, teachers, construction workers, all across the world people are using forces to get them to accelerate and deaccelerate.

There are synthetic forces such as drugs, but if we use them too often, they become part of our inertial framework, and we stay there for an even longer time. It takes tremendous force to move someone from an addictive framework.

What forces can we invite into our lives to accelerate us outside of our inertial framework?

Meditation.

Prayer.

To believe in something higher, to seek the ultimate source of energy, the great force, the Crown on the Tree of Life.

Meditation is good.

Exercise is good.

Exercise is using a kinetic force to make us work. It is work in addition to what we need to go about our daily lives. It challenges our inertial framework.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we invite forces into our lives every day.

There are always things in life that cause us to accelerate or deaccelerate, the death of a family member, the flu, a car accident, a department meeting.

boring meeting

These act on us and cause us to move differently, but the variations can be minimal.

And the more we are stuck within an inertial framework, the more these variations will just become a part of it, the predictable unpredictables of life.

Allow a force to act upon you that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Talk to people you would have never thought of talking to before.

Learn a new language.

Challenge yourself.

Find your force, and let the force be with you.