April 7th, 2009


I am alternately fascinated and repulsed by philosophy. Want to talk about how to define a chair? Sure. I can do it for about ten minutes and then I want everyone to shut up and sit down next to Wittgenstein. What is real? How do we decide? Terrific topic, as long as someone feeds me lunch at the end. And no Platonic ideal lunches, either.

And yet. I find the struggle between the real and the ideal in my life every day. Some days I wake up ready to go for the ideal and get bogged down in the real. Some days I think the ideal is pointless, that I should spend my time doing real and useful things. Some days, I think the best idea is to hide under the covers until it goes away, whatever it turns out to be.

I get attacked by maxims. Everything from Ben Franklin (“Early to bed and early to rise…”) to Jesus (“Consider the lilies of the field…”) to Yoda (“…there is no try.”) to the kids’ Grumpy (“If a frog had wings…”). I become paralyzed. I know I have to do something, but which one? What is most important? And what happens if I choose wrong?

Actually, I pretty much know the answer to that last one. I choose wrong a lot. People end up unhappy. I don’t want people to be unhappy.

Problem is, I don’t think it’s all that important to be happy. The people who change the world, who invent vaccines and build rockets and teach kids to read, do we even care whether they were happy? They did good work.

Stupid philosophy. Got to get to work.

Lent Day 36

Had another idea. I think it might carry me through to the end of Lent. One of my obsessions is water. For whatever reason, I feel better if I go see water during the day. It's a good thing I live on an island. Water takes the shape of its container, except when it shapes its container to fit (see: Grand Canyon). I shaped the water in this picture into a thingie (I'm sure that's the technical math term for this sort of shape, right?) and I wonder what shape the water might choose if it didn't have to conform to its surroundings.