The complexity of our planet and everything on it is beyond comprehension. Looking out my window at the bark on tree branches thirty feet in the air, I see grey and light green lichens or fungus or moss—I guess. And I see living green pine needles and dying or dead brown ones. And acorns on oak trees, among leaves that the season somehow triggers to wilt and fall to the ground. Bark on tree trunks reveals holes where woodpeckers have sought insects, the variety of which is almost unimaginably diverse. I could go on for hours, detailing the variety of life forms just outside my window. But diversity is not limited to living things, of course. If I were viewing multi-colored layers of rock and stone in a road-cut, I could spend hours—perhaps months or years—noting the unique appearance and texture of each one. Sea creatures, volcanoes, clouds, earthquakes, tornadoes, desert sand, and on and on and on and on and on and on…ad infinitum.
Planet Earth is astounding. I wonder whether other planets are as remarkably complex as ours? And what about asteroids and the rings around planets and stars and the space between them? And then I think about my own body and its complexity, its growth and decay—and the resurrection of tissues and the degradation of bones and brain cells and hair that grows on my head and face and…on and on and on…ad infinitum. Stunning. My brain cannot hope to comprehend even a miniscule fraction of the realities it encounters. Any effort to absorb and understand all knowledge is a pointless endeavor, but humankind continues to try. But even our collective efforts are essentially wasted, if our objective is to know all there is available to know. On the other hand, the pursuit of knowing more promises to be an ever-expanding opportunity. Hmm.
Visiting a urologist is not high on my bucket list. That notwithstanding, that is on my calendar for this morning. My oncologist, when she saw that my latest CT scan revealed a “circumferential wall thickening of the urinary bladder,” decided she wanted a urologist to evaluate finding. I realize, of course, that one’s body tends to rebel against aging as time progresses, but I would prefer to delay that revolution until the very end—perhaps twenty years hence. My preferences, of course, are irrelevant; one’s body does what one’s body does—on its own timeline—without being asked or given permission. So, after another espresso to prepare me for the day and a shower to prepare me to be around people, I will visit my urologist.
If the stakes were not so high, we could leave mindless politicians to engage in pointless warfare with one another until only their bloodied corpses remained to remind us that stupidity kills. And, of course, there is the problem of the politicians’ indoctrinated acolytes, people who permit politicians to think for them. The incredibly high stakes, perhaps as high as they have ever been, require the rest of us to use one of the only tools available to us—the vote. The only other means of exercising control involves taking up arms at the risk of leaving politicians unscathed and insurrectionists dead or imprisoned. So, realistically, the vote is our only hope to retain—or recapture—control over self-governance. And, if we were to succeed, maintaining control would require concessions, compromise, and bargains across philosophical divides. Preserving democracy, even an imperfect one, requires extremely hard work and a willingness to accept the fact that the Rolling Stones got it right: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you’ll find you get what you need. We can only hope.
Love. Does it have weight? Mass? Fear. Same questions. How can we know either truly exist? Do we have reliable measures, or must we rely on our senses…and hope they are dependable? Silly questions, but even silly questions might have intriguing, unexpected answers. Or they may not.