Tonight’s image is an old mile marker that’s found along an abandoned road near the Meadow River in West Virginia. Apparently it marks mile number 42.
Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Universe have already begun to snicker. For the rest of the world here’s why. In the book and subsequent movies a large supercomputer named Deep Thought was built to answer the ultimate question of “What is the meaning of life, God, the universe and everything?” After billions of years Deep Thought came up with the answer 42. The irony was that the people who built the computer were long dead and by the time the answer came nobody could remember the question or why it was asked. Now, to be honest I have never read the book and was only present while the movie was playing. As such, I’m only familiar with the trivia. But when I heard the story I began to appreciate implication.
We as humans seem to be hardwired to want to skip learning experience and go straight to mastery of just about everything. We want the “cheat codes”. So much so that we often put more efforts into gaining the cheat than we do experiencing the win. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide the scientists and priests who spent all that time looking for the meaning of life did so at the expense of living life to its fullest. This is the folly of trying to win at all costs. It’s the struggle that makes the victory sweet. If you skip the struggle then the victory is hollow and you never really get to experience it fully. What’s more is that you tend to be so focused on the goal that the importance of the original purpose is lost.
Maybe I’m making that very mistake myself in trying to make my point. Let me close by simply saying that life is an adventure. One that you’ll miss if you try to skip ahead.
Oh and the answer to the question asked by Douglas Adams? Well, I have an opinion of course. The meaning of life, God, the universe and everything is that we were created by God to know the love of our creator. That’s it. It’s that simple. No need for advanced AI or billions of years waiting for an answer that’s as vague as the question. Just talk to him and listen for answers.
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Nobody is born being an expert. We might all have different aptitudes for various skills but it’s practice that makes perfect. Even if we achieve the skill level of “expert” that doesn’t mean that we are free from simple human error. Suddenly being faced with the undeniable truth that you’ve made a royal screwup is God’s way of keeping us humble. In other words, oopsies are the great leveling force of the universe. Remember, it was experts that built the Titanic and amateurs that built the Ark.
When I saw the collection of lost fishing tackle snagged in the overhead power lines my first thought was that someone’s kids had been on their first fishing trip. This inspired the meme below.
But after some thought I began to consider the phenomenon of “muscle memory”. If you are trained to cast a line with a high arc you might not think to adjust your cast while standing under the power lines. Your reflexes would kick in and your body would react out of pure instinct. You would do the right thing but at the wrong time. This kind of mistake happens to all of us and it happens more often than we care to admit. It also happens during the thought process and when reacting to something that someone else has said or done. I think that’s why it’s important to be quick to forgive. Jesus said to let he who is without sin cast the first stone. While there’s different interpretations of what was being implied in this statement I believe that at least in part Jesus was pointing out that errors in actions often include errors in judgment and nobody is immune from this. The experts in the law were reacting out of reflex without examining the circumstances. It’s the same kind of mistake we all make every day.
The cool morning air glides gently off of mountain and pools over the water’s surface. The only sounds I hear are chirps of dawn chorus as song birds wake from their perches and greet the day. An ancient mud turtle leaves his nest on the bank and swims to a sandbar and begins to sun himself. I drop the tailgate of my big blue truck and carry my camera in one hand and my coffee cup in the other. I only have a few minutes to soak in the peaceful morning but I only need a frame or two. I keep an eye out for the eagle that I spotted a while back. I’m hoping that God has ordained another meeting for us. I really want a good shot of him catching his breakfast. I have played out the scene in my imagination nearly every day but so far he’s managed to avoid being captured by my lens. There’s been a near misses where he’s just a fuzzy dot in the sky. Perseverance will pay off eventually. These are the thoughts I was having with my morning coffee when I noticed how gracefully the willow bent over to touch the water. The branches seemed to bounce playfully as the river lapped at the twigs. With the eagle successfully eluding the camera and the coffee running out I decided that the willow would be my subject of the day. I think that sometimes God allows us to have a goal that’s just outside of reach so that we will stretch ourselves. After all, it’s the moment that we rise to the challenge that we become more than we were yesterday. It’s more about the effort than the success. I believe that eventually I’ll take a great photo of that eagle. It will be a bittersweet moment for me because I have truly enjoyed the chase.
Life is all about balance. Mountains don’t exist without valleys. The Earth is never without a sky. Rivers dry up without clouds. Without gravity centripetal force would sling us into outer space. Why then should the ebb and flow of life not include the same pattern? At first, it might seem like a nice thought to always have things go our way. But soon the lack of a challenge to overcome would leave us without the joy of overcoming. In short, we wouldn’t grow and become physically, emotionally and intellectually weak. It’s a lot of work to go from the river in the valley to the mountaintop but when you stand on that rocky ledge overlooking the valley the view is enhanced by the thrill of winning the challenges. Of course you also have to pick your battles. The amazing view in tonight’s feature image was taken from a local bridge especially for you to enjoy while we ponder finding the balance together. Hopefully the lesson that we’ll learn is that if a storm, sunshine, mountains and valleys, Earth and sky can all exist in harmony together to create a fantastic view then perhaps all of the different ideas in today’s society can both maintain individuality and work in harmony to create a fantastic world.
Do you ever wonder where all the great thinkers are today? The inventors, philosophers and problem solvers? Who are the real world leaders? I think I have an answer. They are you. You are the greatest resource on planet Earth. You, the individual. The human mind is the only known creation on planet Earth with the ability to reason beyond the moment. You have the capacity to dream and to forge that dream into a reality. Sure some are more skilled at different forms of creativity than others but that’s a measure of quality not capacity. As a human, you are singularly able to change your world to suit your vision. That’s why quite time is so important. You generate your visions in those times when you can get away from the noise of all the other voices in the world and have free thought. It’s how you sweep away the clutter of the mind and bring dreams into focus to obtain that clear vision.
The featured image is one such place where I like to go. It’s a spot on the Gauley River just below Summersville Dam. As the water pours out of overflow tunnels it forms class six rapids and the roaring river blocks out the noisy world. This is birthplace of many dreams and a refuge for a busy mind.