Life is Beautiful

Despite humankind’s vast knowledge about this planet of ours, we know only a fraction of all there is to know about where we live and who lives with us. Our understanding, even of ourselves, is extremely limited. While our limited comprehension of our home—and the complex relationship between us and planet Earth—is frustrating, the paucity of our awareness reveals that we have opportunities to learn so very, very much more. We are not at risk of becoming bored, nor complacent in our knowledge, unless we choose to overlook our vast stores of ignorance.

There is general agreement that about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water and that more than 96 percent of water on Earth is held by the oceans. The consensus among people who study such things is that we have only minimal knowledge of the secrets of the oceans. The oceans offer almost endless opportunities to expand our miniscule knowledge of the place we call home. Theories about oceanic life abound. Speculation about the geology of the ocean floor and the processes by which it took on its present-day characteristics is rampant, in scientific circles. The dark and mysterious dogma of religions barely touch on the true breadth and depth of life on our planet. Even less believable hokum is scattered about with regard to the formation and evolution of the planet.

The aforementioned ignorance of where we live may pale in comparison to what little we know…truly know…about ourselves and our minds. No doubt significant progress has been made over the millennia about how our brains function, but so much remains unproven or questionable theory. We see our own lives through a fog that, no longer opaque, remains just barely translucent.

We can only guess why two children reared in the same family under similar conditions can have such different personalities. Why one child is ultra-sensitive and emotionally fragile while another is stoic and seemingly unmoved by either trauma or joy is beyond our knowledge. We attempt to explain the source of differences in personalities by referring to genetic variations or subtly diverse environmental influences. We offer all manner of evidence to support our contrasting theories. But evidence that the sky is blue can just as easily be used to support theories about how rods and cones allow our brains to interpret light. Even “hard” data about our experience as living beings is subject to manipulation and interpretation. The “soft” stuff surrounding our moods and emotions is ripe for explanation by way of magic. We “know” almost nothing, but we “think” we know almost everything. Yet even in our arrogance, we must admit to vast empty spaces where facts have yet to intrude.

My thoughts this morning are by no means intended to suggest that humankind remains in the Dark Ages. But we do not understand as much as we often suggest. We pretend to know, when we only speculate. When we consider that a couple in love can have such dramatically different personalities, yet can seem to to together as if purposely designed to fit, we can only guess how that can be. And our explanations about how two seemingly similar people can loathe one another so intensely that they willingly try to kill one another, we can again only guess why. The same kinds of guesses and theories help us make sense of the physical world in which we live. Do causal relationships exist between volcanoes and hurricanes and thunderstorms, crippling cold weather and heat waves and earthquakes?

I don’t know. I know no more about why I can “suddenly” fall in love than I know about why some tremors cause tsunamis and others may result in liquefaction of soils. I do know, though, how utterly fascinating the secrets of the physical world are. And I know that emotions are as mysterious and wonderous as any physical attribute of our planet.


Yesterday morning, my eyes would not cooperate in my efforts to keep tears from welling up in them as I listened to the music of Keb’ Mo’ as he played the guitar tune and sang the lyrics of Life is Beautiful. I doubt I am alone in finding that the melody and the words drag tear-drenched emotions from unknown recesses of my brain. But I know others may find the music interesting or enjoyable but not in the least the source of emotional waterworks. The complexity of the human mind is, in my opinion, beyond human comprehension. We are saddled with the duty of carrying around with us an impossibly complex “device” that stores massive volumes of unfathomable perceptions that masquerade as facts. “Saddled with the duty” makes it sound like a burden. It is not. It is a joyous…privilege? Responsibility? Opportunity? What is it? Life is, indeed, beautiful.


Last night, my girlfriend and I spend time examining our calendars and attempting to find extended periods when we can “hit the road” together. It’s harder (and more expensive) than it first appears. But we shall overcome. 😉


It’s almost seven in the morning. Time for more coffee. And, then, later this morning, I’m off to have lunch with two other beautiful women (it’s okay…my girlfriend understands what I mean when I use those words).  Life is beautiful. It is.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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