Saturday, March 12, 2011
I've written about challenges and pain. My son's recent injury. Those dying in Africa I've cared for, lives I helped save. My father wrote about my getting hit and paralyzed by a drunk driver when I was 17. I've since lived in pain, with deficits. I continue to improve.
Others have fared worse. My grandfather used to say if you all sat around a table (at a bar, I guess, he was an alcoholic) and put your problems on the table, you'd be embarrassed and pull yours back ... others are worse off. Singer Bono said something like that when he compared our world to the third world: "[I]n the Third World, the gap between an ordinary life there and a life in the West is enormous, almost unimaginable. But the gap between where you are and where I am is microscopic. It's just degrees of luxury."
On balance, I believe, pain or no, poverty or not, we live for dreams. Maslow wrote, we live for ourselves but, once we meet basic needs, we can turn to help others, our community, our children, make the world a better place, attain a sense of love and belonging, the substance of dreams.
Jack Wheatcroft, Bucknell poet and professor emeritus (and one of my academic advisors), taught that we are myth-makers, we create stories to explain the world. I suggest our myths need to reconcile with facts and adapt, or we become stupid, irrelevant. We've seen the crude myths of gods and thunders evolve over the millennia, to science and precision, at various levels. My wife, a molecular biologist, is squarely in the precise paradigm, where I am more coarse, prone to creative conjecture, fresh product designs that decompose to software bits.
I also have high dreams that are more often whispered. The future of the Africa clinic model, certain cyclists, a software product line, heat in the Nubian desert, my left leg. Dreams are larger than the big hairy audacious goals I described last week. They're the entire ether. Much stuff fitting together, elaborate and delicate, assiduously tuned, revised -- abandoned when necessary. Some dreams make it into pictures.
Other dreams are accomplished. (Venga!) On we go.