Flying Northeast #AA2716. With Birds.

We pulled away from the gate at DFW 30 minutes late, late Friday afternoon. Not bad. Could be worse.

Exit row, reclining seat. God Bless Shara (My Assistant). We’ve been together 6 years now. This seat, this trip, the car pick-up, managing trip expenses – here and there and there, always just right.

Jet engines on this late model Boeing throb, I’m sitting over the wings. We taxi out, make a slow turn, and then…

The engines shut down, and the Pilot comes on the intercom. No. No. No. Yes.

“Folks, I’m sorry. But there is flow control at LaGuardia. We’ve been advised that the wait could be up to 90 minutes. We need to wait on the runway in the event we get cleared sooner.”

Not a free seat open on this plane. A chorus of groans, a shifting in seats. We settle in. My arrival time, now potentially 10pm on Friday night. Shoulders slump, heaviness sets in.

I grab my smartphone and tap in “P-h-o-e-n-i-x:” (in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle. 

Let’s skip the funeral pyre part. But, the rest? Bring it on. To rise from the ashes. Live through another cycle. This trip that just won’t end.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in Phoenix at a firm wide conference. Thursday and Friday with our team in Dallas.

What did you remember? [Read more…]

Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves

Physicist, novelist, and essayist Alan Lightman has added his own manifestoIn Praise of Wasting Time. Of course, the title is ironic, because Lightman argues that by putting down our devices and spending time on quiet reflection, we regain some of our lost humanity, peace of mind, and capacity for creativity—not a waste of time, after all, despite the prevailing mentality that we should spend every moment actually doing something. The problem is not only our devices, the internet, and social media. Lightman argues that the world has become much more noisy, fast-paced, and distracting. Partly, he writes, this is because the advances that have enabled the much greater transfer of data, and therefore productivity, have created an environment in which seemingly inexorable market forces push for more time working and less leisure time.

Lightman starts his book with an anecdote from his recent time in a rural village in Cambodia. When he asked a villager how long it took her to bike daily to the market ten miles away to barter for food and goods, she replied that she had never thought about it. Lightman is “startled” at this, and jealous. He points out that we in the “developed” world (his scare quotes) have carved up our days into minuscule portions, not a single one to be wasted. He admits that “from the instant I open my eyes in the morning until I turn out the lights at night, I am at work on some project. First thing in the morning, I check my email. For any unexpected opening of time that appears during the day, I rush to patch it, as if a tear in my trousers…” 

Lightman points to several productive, creative individuals who routinely had unstructured time in their days. A fellow physicist at MIT, Paul Schechter, used to sit for hours daydreaming on park benches, which he credited with helping come up with important ideas, including a formula for the number of galaxies with different luminosities. Gertrude Stein used to drive around in the country every day and find a place to sit and write; much of that time was not spent writing, but gazing at cows. Mathematician Henri Poincaré, after a few weeks of fruitless work on functions, drank coffee one evening and in his sleeplessness found that “[i]deas rose in crowds; I felt them collide under pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination. By the next morning I had established the existence of a class of Fuchsian functions . . . “

Lightman feels we are in a “dire” situation:

Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves. We are losing our ability to know who we are and what is important to us. We are creating a global machine in which each of us is a mindless and reflexive cog, relentless driven by the speed, noise, and artificial urgency of the wired world.

~ Anitra Pavlico, from “Alan Lightman On Wasting Time” (3quarksdaily, January 7, 2019)


Photo: Financial Times

Stop. And…

beginning-purpose-meaning


Source: RudyOldeSchulte

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