Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall On Me [1]

(a quasi poetic interlude)

On this chill morn did my inbound bus driver reveal unto me that he had seen between the third and fourth hour some snowflakes aflurry. I lamented the bitter cold's premature arrival as I fed my 12 bits for fare.

The chill seemed to sap the energy of all who claimed stride upon sidewalks of this city. The skies were overcast and dim for most of the day. Yet as I set foot from my homeward bound bus onto the drive of my residence did I notice that the sky had taken an appearance most odd.

The cloud cover had thinned in places, exposing a faint blue, reminding me that amid all this, her azure splendor did still dwell above all else. Yet evenso, the blue was so faint that you might not notice in the dimming moments of twilight.

The primitive reaches of my mind posited the supersition that the cold air was so vast in its hunger that it had devoured the sweet day's rays.

Loneliness... It is hardly coincidence that we do associate friendly company with warmth and isolation with the chill. I live alone now, save for the presence of my beloved wayward canine of seven years. I feel the isolation as I walk the drive from my bus route to my home.

I see the stately trees as they begin their colorful descent into a barren slumber. A breeze may ruffle the leaves here and there, with the gentle rasp of lifeless biomass across grass. This haunting scene brings forth an understanding of the ease with which our ancestors bound death, decay, and fear to this season.

Why do we despise the isolation? Perhaps it is because we know deep down that few of us could truly survive as an island. We need the din of others to drown out the vulnerability.

But why survive? This is the question so few of us can answer. Scholars tell us we are matter animated by energy through processes so complex that we cannot fathom, let alone fully replicate.

Through our beings we sustain life in the present and for the future, but in our brief existence here we have become so much more skilled at the destruction of life, but the a priori creation eludes us, probably for reasons of the better, given our penchant for folly.

We know that this universe is vast. We know we are insignificant in both space and mass. Our existence is fleeting. The energy that propagates us is a blink of an eye to the stars which populate in the heavens.

What is so special about our existence that it should merit preservation? Is it the rarity of such complex and organized systems? If so, who aside from us, is out there to treasure its scarcity?

It is this mystery which leads us to resolve this paradox with the divine. Some cultures have ascribed to divinity many attributes... jealousy, benevolence, omnipotence, destructiveness, omniscience, wrathfulness, forgiveness, self sacrificing, indifference...

Over the past few years, my faith in the divine has been shaken, but not abandoned. If he will not break the reed so bruised, nor will I. When people ask me what flavor of belief I am, I say, "Lutheran in Exile". At one point I went so far as to accuse the Almighty of my upbringing as being stricken with mental illness.

There are many in my trade who do not acknowledge the divine. Although most are tolerant, there are those who would seek to discourage belief out of the assumption that many of our ills are created or prolonged by disagreements over the Truth and a distrust of reason.

To these, I say that even in the rational constructs of computing, we indulge in regular use of useful illusions. We speak of them as real, as if they are there, but are not. The notion of the window in a graphical user interface is but one example. There is no window there as there are no buttons to press, but we rely on these metaphors to give us the ability to work with data on a higher level.

When they balk at me, I bring up perhaps their own pet constructs: data objects, sockets, or even pipes. It at this point they can sometimes see my point. We all rely on these things to help us do our job. If we were forced to work manually with the countless transistors on a single chip, we would certainly get little done throughout the day.

So even if there is no significance to our existence, I would rather live it believing that there is a purpose that drives us, than to be utterly adrift. I don't know the purpose. I don't know if I ever will, but just believing that one day it will be known helps me to act as if.

[1] -- Apologies to R.E.M., but only out of deference to their early years... before the Stipe went bald and the releases became tripe.
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