Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sesquipedalian Trepidation.

     Revelation is marked by mystery, eternal happiness by suffering, the certitude of faith by uncertainty, easiness by difficulty, truth by absurdity; if this is not maintained, then the esthetic and the religious merge in common confusion. … The religious lies in the dialectic of inwardness deepening and therefore, with regard to the conception of God, this means that he himself is moved, is changed. An action in the eternal transforms the individual’s existence.
-- Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments

     Most people go to the ocean and surf, frolic in the foam from the breakers, build sand castles, swim, splash, exercise, and enjoy themselves. Some enjoy this life so much they spend ludicrous sums of money to live on the beach. However, people rarely find great treasures during these activities. Usually, finding treasure requires two things: Attentiveness and excavation.

     The first requirement is being attentive. We must look, be aware of our surroundings, discover and notice that which seems out of place. Some treasure hunters use metal detectors or do research when looking for treasure. People that stumble upon a long lost wedding ring or loose change are noticing something that hundreds of other people may have stepped over. Regardless, a requirement to finding something means being in the process of looking. Which brings us to our second requirement for finding treasure; excavation.

     Excavation is different from digging. Dogs dig. Squirrels excavate. Digging has no purpose other than making a hole. It is certainly fine if something turns up during the digging, but that is not its purpose. With excavating, the idea is to remove dirt in order to expose something. It inherently assumes something exists below the soil that is valuable enough to work to retrieve. Sunken treasure is called sunken treasure because it sinks. It takes special equipment, training, and intentionality to find these treasures.

     Perhaps I am being too jaded, pessimistic, or negative, but it seems to me there are very few people willing to do the hard work required which brings about meaning in life. Meaning is a treasure, it reveals who we are and what we value. Our tendency to stick to the surface and be distracted by any new trend or quick flash of NEW NEW NEW!!!! robs us of the necessary energy to find meaningful treasure and it distracts us from noticing found treasure.

     Sesquipedalian, is a word used to describe very long words. The word "sesquipedalian", is sesquipedalian. Self referencing meta-words just make me happy. "Sesquipedalian Trepidation" means being afraid to move forward in regards to big words. Many people are often hesitant to read Kierkegaard, May, or a hundred other incredible authors because they use large words, discuss complex concepts, or ask questions they cannot answer. Yet, this is the mental and spiritual excavation that aids in uncovering our personal deep meaning. It takes effort and strain to maintain an attentive vigilance in order to find meaning where it lies; even in the mundane.

     Some people show up to the beach and money is washing up on the shore. Some people wake up in the morning with a newly acute awareness of what it means to be real, to have meaning, to be who they are. These people are lucky, rare, and waiting for money to wash up on the beach probably is not the most sound retirement plan. If you desire meaning, purpose, and authenticity, then you must be willing to do the hard work of excavation and attentiveness. To quote Teddy Roosevelt: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

     Your treasure exists. All you have to do is find it.

Sunken Treasure.
(C) Nathan D. Croy, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Potential Energy (Love Part D of 4)

     The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still knows bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.

-- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

     Energy is a strange concept for me. There are equations to measure and describe all types of energy. Potential, kinetic, work, ohms, watts, volts, and the list goes on. What makes it a strange concept to my non-physics-educated brain is how something which seems intangible can be measured. Someone can probably explain it to me, and I think there was a class in high school that tried, but as it stands, I just scratch my head. Potential energy is a great one! Looking at mass times gravity times height is the basic formula for this. But then we go and add arbitrary zero points and make many assumptions which make me question the reliability of the answer.

     For instance, gravity is a variable in the formula for potential energy yet most physicists agree there is less gravity than there should be: both in general and even in Canada. It's difficult to describe the potential energy something may have when one of the variables used to define it is not readily agreed upon (thanks a bunch, Einstein!). Don't get me wrong, many of the formulas used work well enough for NASA to land a person on the moon and get a little dune buggy on Mars, so that's not bad. I'm just saying, there are times we have to say we don't know, but we do know enough.

     Now I'm beginning to wonder if the same concept of "knowing enough" is applicable to potential within individuals as well? There are many variables regarding the ability of someone to express their potential. If ever there were to be a formula for the existential process of moving from "what could be" to "what is", it would be the formula that defines love.

        Love is the process by which the meaning of an individual ceases to be potential and becomes actual. This means each of us is a necessary holding space whereby others may express love. In isolation we necessarily remain pure potential. Only in relationship may we become actual, real, and fulfilled.

(C) Nathan D. Croy

This is the last entry in a four part series on Love. Please click to read Part A, Part B, & Part C. Thank you, and as always, please leave a comment.