Sunday, August 23, 2009


There are some moments in life that leave an indelible impression. The memories of which record themselves in our neural pathways forever for future appreciation. Human beings are gifted at recording all of the output of our senses in incredible fidelity within our heads. Today I returned from assisting a relative with a furniture move, I was hot, sweaty and generally pretty uncomfortable. Our home was quiet and the pool in the back yard beckoned. I slipped into the water reveled in the cool bliss of an empty and calm pool. There had been a soaking rain an hour earlier so the air was excessively humid, a condition which the pool provided much welcome relief. As I floated I gazed up towards the east. Against a backdrop of battleship gray cloud was the most complete and brilliant rainbow I had ever seen in my life. Every color perfectly rendered against the canvas of cloud. These are the images that inspire poets, artists, composers… I am not Robert Frost, Claude Monet or Mozart. I cannot convey the impression with anywhere near the artistic beauty of any of those just mentioned, though the image is rendered within my memory with no less majesty. I proceeded to think about what it is in the human mind that makes it possible for us the appreciate the sublime. There are animals that can no doubt perceive the colors the same as I can but the ability to make the image a part of a mental warehouse, that’s a hallmark of humanity. The ability to retain and appreciate experiences that touch us. For most of human history the there was absolutely no understanding of what a rainbow was or how it was painted across a humid sky. Many thoughtful and brilliant people proposed subtle and engaging explanations. John Keats wrote about science taking the wonder out of nature:

Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine –
Unweave a rainbow

Some say our ability to understand the origin of such natural majesty detracts from the experience. For my part I feel nothing could be further from the truth. This ability to understand the world is the greatest tool for our survival that we have. There is something elevating and almost spiritual that comes with understanding. Something that goes a long way to show how interconnected everything in the universe is. The human brain allows us to be liberated from the mundane; to become more than instinct and survival. We can remember, deconstruct, analyze, and then understand that which our senses reveal. Then we can use what we learn to make a fulfilling and meaningful life for ourselves and help those around us to do the same. Who among us can possibly have complete appreciation of what else might be possible...?



Anonymous said...

I honestly can't think of another post of yours that impacted me this much. You made my eyes leak. I haven't taken the time lately to just absorb the "wonder of it all" for awhile now. Thank you for the reminder of, even within our different belief system, how extremely important it is.

I love science. I don't feel it detracts from anything to understand how things work, and connect. I just believe it is a small glimpse into the vastness of my God and that our deepest thoughts and understanding barely scratch the surface of who He is. =)

Thank you for this Robert.

Robert said...

Anytime Deb!

I look at this as having one the cosmic lottery....

...of all the possible human beings that could using the atoms that make up my body. I am here. I have a slice of time in the eons that make up the past and the future.

It would be such a waste to not look around and try to contribute in a positive way.


Anonymous said...

Can we contribute in a positive way in an infinte Universe? Or only in our finite part of it?

One man's positron is another mans electron, is another man's neutrino, is another man's anti-neutrino. Ultimately we all annihilate one another. What sort of contribution do we really make?

As a believer in God i have never really heard Him telling me: All this is for you - now go and make it better. Show me your contribution can add to what is.

He seems to be trying to tell me i should be glad to do His Will. Not mine. That what i need to do is undo what i have created so that it does not contribute in a negative fashion to what i could have for all eternity.

But maybe im not hearing Him right still?

Do any of us?


Anonymous said...

Hi Bob:

"Can we contribute in a positive way in an infinte Universe?"

Of course we can, if everyone does their part, what do you think those combined efforts will accomplish? Do you think you have to a believer to care about and appreciate the planet?

"As a believer in God i have never really heard Him telling me: All this is for you - now go and make it better."

Really? Then we need to go back to Genesis.....

"But maybe im not hearing Him right still?

Do any of us?"

Ummmmmmm John 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me"

Every day....

Anonymous said...

once again Blogger has destroyed a comment and i can't be bothered making the effort of typing it all out again.

Wordpres seems to have resolved these 'issues' for over a year now - what's blogger's problem - why this stupid little 'comment window' you can't go back to a previous page in??

i hate blogger!

sorry for the 'lack' of appropriate response to all concerned.

blove (and why can't i use my symbol in blogger?? it sucks lemons!)

Robert said...

I like blogger for it's flexibility. Read: hackability. It allows be to deviate from the established templates as much as I like or as much as I care to learn to via HTML.

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Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read this article. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

Great minds think alike........................................