Define #Home.

homeI stayed my first night in a place that I actually own and pondered what ‘home’ is. I’ve worked decades toward this end.

‘Home’ is an ethereal concept for me. In college, in the military, at work, people often ‘went home’ for holidays.  I was already, I thought, ‘home’, because where else would I be?

Sitting in the new place, I wondered why I did not yet feel comfortable. There was a feeling of incompleteness, a void yet not an emptiness.

It was quiet and still and new. ‘New’ has never been a problem for me, my life has been about ‘new’ – change has been a constant as I wandered from place to place, living out of bags,  adjusting here and there. I always knew where my towel was.

Yet in that first night I could not understand why it felt so different. I slept well, and when I awoke it still seemed un-home.

Weeks later, having almost completely settled in, I know what it is – because it is home now.

It isn’t the things I moved in, it isn’t the furniture. It isn’t the people who come over because no one has and very few will. It’s because I did not have a writing nook, a place where I could sit and feel right enough about the universe to write what was on my mind. It was also the quiet, and the lack of intrusion on my thoughts by some incessant noise, and more importantly, the worry of it happening.

It was an anxiety of sorts, a feeling that the other shoe had not yet dropped – and the last place I rented on the ground floor certainly had a lot of shoes dropping above.

Home.Home is where I can write, where I can read in peace, and where I am comfortable – and the latter has taken me time because there’s no disruption. There is privacy, an air of security that I’ve never had, and a feeling of standing on solid earth where before life required sea legs. I worry a bit of this last thing, but venturing out in the world allows my sea legs to maintain themselves.

Home is where I don’t need the metaphorical sea legs, where the noise created is my own…

And where I finally finished this post I had begun writing 2 weeks ago.

Pre-dawn Thoughts.

I see so much of what I used to be in the world, shadows of myself anchored in self-perception. I see very little of what I could be in the world.

The options narrow. We learn things. We decide whether to continue doing things.

Every now and then, we notice a breath we take. More often, we notice we exhale.

We move on – or we stay where we are. If we stay where we are, do we face the same way, happy with the view, or do we look around? Are we circumspect?

Is reality a wave you ride, or does it slam you into the sand and rocks below?

Why am I asking all these questions?

I have no idea.

Why are you trying to answer them?

I need coffee.

Tough.

scar tissueIn youth, we try to take our measure of the world.

Every year, an ocean of youth is dashed upon a shore, trying to affect some change or the other, violent upheavals against hard rocks.

In time, that energy wanes, and maybe those rocks are changed a little – so little, in fact, that you can’t see the change. A crack here. A piece of stone there.

Sometimes, because of the work of generations before, a noticeable change happens and that generation thinks that they were responsible for it when, in fact, previous generations loosened that jar and made it possible. They don’t care. They’re young and will take the credit, just as a new politician will take the credit of previous administrations manifested during their new role.

The latter think that they are tough, standing on the shoulders of the scarred generations before, ignorant of how they got there and the sacrifices it took.

That is not tough. When you have the luxury of scarring yourself rather than having the world scar you, you are not tough – you are privileged, and how you use that privilege determines what future generations have to stand on.

When the world doesn’t scar us, the balance is broken, the third Law ignored, and the next generations will pay the piper because the third Law cannot be ignored.

Peanut Butter

Eye see!Decades ago, a 14 year old version of me was going to secondary school while working in my father’s print shop.

It certainly wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t lucrative, and it wasn’t easy. The print shop was downstairs, and as soon as woke up in the morning, it was the walk to school. It was a hard walk through a hard neighborhood in a uniform, with the usual heckling of someone going to a prestige school got when walking through such a neighborhood. They didn’t really know me, they didn’t have to know me, they just saw what I represented and rolled with it.

In time, they would find a mistake there as surprising to myself as to them, but that’s another story.

I’d get to school, and of course, I never did my homework so the first order of business was to get the homework done for the classes where I would get in trouble if I didn’t. Sometimes that meant actually doing it, sometimes that meant copying, and sometimes that meant finding a creative excuse… or sometimes, simply manning up and saying I didn’t do it.

At lunch, while everyone else hung out, I had to walk back home – allegedly for lunch, with a stepmother who couldn’t be bothered to have much there unless my father was going to be around – so I made do, often with peanut butter or cheese. I’d walk back to school, get to class, and the cycle continued until the final bell rang – and off to home and the printshop I went, with a few of the older kids riding around with their friends giving me a hard time for walking in that neighborhood that they could drive through, even slapping the back of my head as they drove by, protected only by a sedan moving faster than I could. Then I got to the rougher parts of the neighborhood, where I steadfastly pushed on through the other side of the heckling.

At home, I would change and get down into the printery. If receipt books had to be numbered, I numbered them; it was all very manual. If I was lucky, I could spend some time on the computer – I rarely was. And until dinner, whenever that might happen, I ate, fed the dogs and if there was an emergency job – I was back down in the printery.

The printery was a solace. A therapy. And it was, despite the economy and despite my father’s trusting and drinking nature at the time, the source of my clothing and my food.

But there was a 2 week period where it did not provide anything because my father took a big risk and lost. The shelves were empty, so I took some money – a few dollars – and went and bought a small jar of peanut butter.

That’s what I ate for 2 weeks. I rationed spoons of peanut butter. I don’t think anyone really realized what I was doing – everyone was so busy with their own self-interests. It was a hard 2 weeks, keeping up appearances as above.

Hungry all the time. Unable to concentrate in class. That jar of peanut butter lasted the first week, and there was no change, so I cut back my ration because I didn’t know how long it would last. As it happens, at the end of that week, I had 1/4 of a small jar of peanut butter left when the shelves got stocked by my father.

That hunger at that age is something that I held on to, and has driven me over the years. And I thought of it, strangely, as I was packing some things into the new place…

And saw the jar of peanut butter.

Hail The Drunk Alchemist.

A rocket lifting off is an amazing sight not just because of the light and smoke, or the piercing of our atmosphere. Underneath that, there’s this Newtonian law. The Third Law.
ICESat-2 Launch (NHQ201809150015)

For every action force there is an equal and opposite reaction force.

Granted, there are so many other factors involved in a rocket launch, but the basis for almost all of it is that third law a drunk alchemist, who got hit with an apple, came up with through observation.

The photograph quality of this particular rocket is pretty stunning too.

The Beach Flow

NSB Sunrise (09/03/2016)One of the things I loved about living in New Smyrna Beach (NSB) was watching the sun rise – but it was always more complicated than the sun simply rising.

Truly wonderful things have a depth to them.

Weather predictions were always laughed at in NSB. The ebb and flow of high and low pressure at the beach always made the weather questionable. The sun might rise and push back cloud cover that sat over land in the morning.

There are dark parts of our lives that we can’t change, that we can’t seem to affect – and people will come by when it’s pouring rain and tell you that your attitude is the problem when they’re standing under a brightly colored umbrella.

They might even call you less than pleasant things when your grounded wrath strikes like lightning, the boom of thunder announcing a less than pleasant feeling for someone between the wrath and whatever that they are tethered to that isn’t ground.

In the end, sometimes the sun simply needs to rise, heating the ocean, creating a high pressure over the water that drives toward the low pressure, pushing the clouds away. Sometimes it pushes the storm to you, the maelstrom of beautiful rage pressed upon the fleeting, the delible, and to greet that rage is also a powerful thing.

When it happens, the best way to experience it is with the feel of the water lapping your toes and the unsteady feel of drifting sand between your toes.

The water currents, the winds… the moon, the outflow of water from rains on the land…

It’s complex, yet all the moving parts of the experience are there to understand by simple observation.

To watch the sun rise is one thing. To watch how it changes the way you experience the world, to change your world in such a tactile way, starts the day properly.

To see it happen, to understand the complexity of the experience, to feel it all as it happens with that understanding…

Is something I miss.

Soon.

Society Systems

Don't Panic.

This is about technology and society – which is really about society these days. Bear with me.

The universe we know is full of systems, we as a society increasingly understand them. There are rules to them – real rules – that we’ve begun exploring through science. That’s all very exciting, but society isn’t good at listening to scientists. What we are good at is making our own systems, and we expect them to be followed as if there is some natural order to things.

man wondering if he could pee between the pillars

Born here?
That’s how we define you.

Look a certain way? That’s how we define you.

Believe in some form of deity, or not?
That’s how we define you.

And so on, and so on.

We end up shadowy figures of the biases of others. In an increasingly digital world, where our data is analyzed, our shadows become more blurry yet that blur also defines us as it fits certain fuzzy categories we don’t know about.

This all worked out really well when everyone was born in the same place, looked a certain way and believed in some form of deity, among many other things. Anyone not like was from somewhere else, and was not to be trusted. The concept of immigration was a matter seen as invasion, more or less. Some people still think this way. That’s not the topic at hand. And no, it’s not about branding the systems as bad, either.

They are what they are.
The question is whether they should be what they are now.
That’s what people are largely upset about right now.
It’s largely what they will be upset about in the future.

second babel tower

These systems were seen as necessary at the time. I wasn’t there at the time, and it’s highly unlikely you were there at the time.

We learn about what was wrong with the systems and we have opinions, largely because how we view the world changes.

We disagree with many of the systems now – some more than others. Largely, though, we are victims of what our forebears thought was possible.

Change comes from tossing at least a part of this framework of possibility aside in a haphazard sort of way, plodding toward what we believe is progress – what we hope is progress – but we don’t really know. We like to think we know because it makes us feel grounded, like we somehow matter. Maybe we do. Is it so horrible if we didn’t? Human nature says, “Yes”.

The world is accelerating now in profound ways. Networks pump information, if we drill down into them we find the rhythms to be of a very human nature. When people wake up. When people get off work. It’s all a framework of our own creation.

It’s a framework built so that we can break out of the old frameworks – not purposefully, but it ended up that way. The truth is that no one really had an idea. There were some hopes.

There were also a few who thought it all a novelty. There still are.

Subtly, across generations, we have come a long way – and technology is now driving us to go further. At a societal level, people aspire to be driven by technology.

Who drives the technology?

The people who make the frameworks that people use.

What drives them? Are they trying to make the world a better place?
Who are they trying to make the world a better place for?

Who stymies the technology? The people who make the frameworks that people have used and have begun to feel trapped by.

And all the while, everyone is coloring in lines that someone else drew because society doesn’t like change to happen too fast.

And so, slowly, we build new systems in this evolving mechanism we call society.

We are society.