05 February 2014

24 October 2013

Movement is life.

I hate being in one place for too long. It drives me crazy. So, I find myself simulating movement. I take different routes to work everyday. I find different spots at different parks to sit in and contemplate. I try to look at the world in a different light, through a different lens. I wander aimlessly. I roam the streets in my car, caring more that I'm going somewhere at all than where I'm actually going. Restless. Unsettled. Characterized by my desire to move. Somehow missing that anchor in my soul—the one everyone else seems to have—asking me to stay, and settle, and find security.

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that I've descended from gypsies. Long ago, two feuding clans set out from India in opposite directions, wandering the world for a thousand years, mixing with the natives they encountered, adopting their languages and customs before finally ending up in America. The Montagues and Capulets prospering for generations on opposite ends of the earth before finally settling down together in a remote corner on the edge of the Pacific, finding their legacies bound up in me, their names embodied in mine.

03 October 2013

And miles to go before I sleep.

Kairosn. The opportune time. The supreme moment. There's a theory that life on earth originated in some far corner of the universe. That earth wasn't the first place that lighting struck primordial soup. That the first microbes crash-landed here billions of years ago, perfectly preserved on some interstellar rock, flying through the cosmos, hibernating until conditions were just right. The off chance that life originates on earth is so slim—the lottery of lotteries, the million-keystroke Shakespearian play, the rolled back stone and empty tomb—that a more plausible explanation lies elsewhere. Let's let those other planets deal with the odds. All we know is that we've won.

The second kind of stardust is this. It's us.

28 September 2013

27 September 2013

"There's two kinds of stardust."

"You see the woman cooking bacon?" They were standing in the middle of the kitchen, looking towards the gas range, listening to the sizzling. The woman pushed around the slabs of meat, staring out the blinds, daydreaming. He was dreaming, of course, one of those dreams where you have a guide explaining things to you. He was dreaming of the woman he loved- rather, of the woman who loved him- and the life she lived after he left her. She never loved bacon, all their years together; she was a vegan. But here she was. Cooking.

"Every once in awhile there will be a person in a relationship who will continue to love, even when that love is not returned. That's called transcendental stardust." And he awoke, with some floating over his face, covering the view of his eyes.

15 September 2013

The Elder Son

I've always wondered what life was like before history. What it must've been like for our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers: the Cro-Magnons, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and the countless others for whom we have no names. What we have left are fossils (bone, teeth, and tools), burial sites (jewelry, adornments, and clothing), trash pits (with the remains of animals and enemies), and speculation. Lots, and lots of speculation. The best known examples of our common thread with ancient humanity from this time period are paintings on cave walls, deer antlers turned to flutes, and a kind of compassion demonstrated by strong evidence of prolonged care for the dying and a seemingly deliberate arrangement of the dead. A certain notion of the future that goes beyond earthly planning, beyond the next few days, the next few seasons, years, and generations. A notion of the future that goes so far ahead it wraps back around.

The Neanderthals co-existed with the direct ancestors of modern humans for tens of thousands of years. Many scientists have come up with different theories of what first encounters must have been like (the Neanderthals ranged over a vast portion of Europe and Western Asia, so there must have been numerous first encounters) and why these people one day vanished off the face of the earth. Jared Diamond, for example, the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, suggests violent conflict and displacement. The same thing that happened in history when the Europeans first landed in America. A technological divide so vast, one culture could not help but completely dominate the other. It sounds like a sad fate for a people where much evidence suggests an intelligence on par with modern humans, a cranial capacity on average exceeding our own, the possession of a gene closely linked with advanced language skills, and a culture that valued the injured and held a capacity for a concept of the afterlife.

Others suggest climate change. Still others a volcanic eruption. None of these theories are mutually exclusive. They could have all worked in tandem, contributing collectively to the sealed fate of an ancient race of human beings. But an alternate explanation has come up in recent years, thanks to more advanced techniques in DNA analysis. That is, one of interbreeding. About 1-4% of modern European and Asian genes are believed to be inherited from the contributions of the Neanderthals. These genes are only present in Africans when present in both Europeans and Asians, but not the other way around, suggesting that these traits were brought into the gene pool after migration from Africa.

Paleontologist Björn Kurtén wrote a fictional account of a possible scenario playing out involving interbreeding. He called it Dance of the Tiger. In his short novel, he imagines a world where the Neanderthals are enamored when encountering Cro-Magnons. Their height, softer facial features, darker skin, ability to make speech with fluency and ease. All these things came together and captivated the hearts of Neanderthals. Whenever they could, they would interbreed. The only problem was, and this is supported by the same DNA analysis mentioned earlier, that when a Neanderthal woman had a child with a Cro-Magnon man, their child would be infertile. Much like when a horse mates with a donkey to produce a mule. However, when a Cro-Magnon woman had a child with a Neanderthal man, this was not necessarily the case. But DNA evidence suggests that in order to account for a 1-4% contribution to the overall gene pool, this only happened about once in every 30 years.

In other words, according to this theory, an entire race of humans died off because they loved other humans who did not love them back.

05 September 2013

"Son of David, don't pass me by!"

Do I have a simple summary of the thoughts and feelings these words evoke? Not exactly. I'm not there yet in my journey. For now, I have disjointed reflections, not firm conclusions. I have tangents and stories, not three point summaries. Reader be warned.

Cause I need more. The words came alive to me at a soup kitchen in the heart of San Diego, God's Extended Hand. A black minister and a couple members from his church came to share the good news with the homeless. He stood at the front of the room and illustrated how desperate Bartimaeus, called the blind beggar in the passage, must have been when he realized Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. They wailed, they bellowed, they pleaded in desperation, following the man passing by who seemed to be his only chance at a normal life. That's all he wanted, Bartimaeus, a normal life, and he wasn't about to hold back now. So he cried out, he pleaded, he begged; Bartimaeus, the blind beggar.

More than a fairy tale. How can you believe in the resurrection? How can you not? There's something compelling about perfection—it's the reason why we still study the ontological argument. You can't will something to be simply because it should. I mean, you can't expect reality to bend to logic's conclusion. Still, that gap exists between what should and what is, what could be and what has been. And I don't think that's a coincidence. I think there's meaning in the chasm, there's treasure in the tension.

I need someone real. I know a few people who are disconnected from reality. I was once one of them. If there is such a thing as a spiritual reality—think of it as an alternate universe, the other side, the end of the tunnel, where the wormhole goes, or whatever else you'd like to imagine—then surely it is a real as physical reality. The reality we live in and speak in and breathe in today. Then it's not merely something, it's someone, we desire. Martel's Ultimate Reality. The pinnacle. The ideal. The utmost.
So would you come?
Would you come?
If I begged you, would you come closer to me now?  
Son of David, do not pass me by,
cause I am naked,
I'm poor and I'm blind.