Monthly Archives: June 2014

FACEBOOKING MY 16 YEAR-OLD GRANDDAUGHTER

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I know. I know. Blogging is a dinosaur in the social media world of you and your friends. Facebooking, too. Even so, I trust you will be patient with my birthday well wishes through these media.

Through these various media, including your mother’s text, I know you had a slumber party celebrating your sixteenth. I woke up in the middle of the night contemplating what I would like for you to remember going forward on the next leg of your journey. Maybe, your slumber party woke me up. Because I was half-awake, I kept thinking of a line from the poet, Rumi,

“Don’t go back to sleep…”

He was referring to a deeper love available in relationships and how easy it is to slumber through friendships without a continual awakening and opening of our hearts. So, there you go: that is one wish I have for you. Read Rumi. Treasure friendships.

Once awake, I recalled vividly a day near your eighth birthday, an early morning. We hiked down into a little canyon off our back deck, slipping and sliding along the way. Crossing the wet weather creek, we looked up a rise on our right. On the ridge line stood a medium sized juniper tree, one I like to sit under and meditate. Up the hill we scrambled. With a wrinkled nose and twinkling eyes, you invited me to climb. Or did I invite you?

Sitting on the second limb from the bottom, we both focused our awareness on a heart-shaped feature of the trunk. Running our hands over the rough spot, it seemed like the wild heart of the tree entered us. In my mind that moment linked us forever.

 But only if we don’t go back to sleep to our wild hearts in the tree.

Suggesting to a sixteen-year-old to treasure your wild heart might seem strange coming from a grandfather, something like opening the hen-house to the fox. Yet, that is exactly what comes to me on the morning of your sixteenth.

Along that line I want to thank you as another memory comes to mind. In this blog sequence you will notice a story about saving an ancient oak tree from the Texas Hi-Way Department’s plan to cut down a grove for their idea of progress. Several of us planned a ceremony on behalf of the trees and to honor the fine women who had enough courage and persistence to oppose a massive bureaucracy. It was a big day, but I don’t think I ever told you the high point for me.

When I saw you and your mother and father, my heart leapt up. Especially, to see you in that setting. I know when you are sixteen there are many competing pulls for your time and attention on a weekend afternoon. I know drumming and chanting are not part of your usual school life. It seemed a little awkward for both of us. But you chose to be there. You chose to spend those hours not only on behalf of your grandparents but also on behalf of heritage trees.

And I peered past a natural reticence completely understandable in a situation of a sixteen-year-old among a circle of, shall we say, mature adults. As I looked, I saw the same untamed soul from our heart tree long ago. I saw the original face, one not covered over and drowned by the mainstream.

Then, a couple of days ago, your friends, ones at our slumber party, posted this picture of you. It was clear to me they saw what I saw in you. And that wild heart shining through is your gift to me on your sixteenth birthday.

HIDDEN VARIABLES: Out of the mystery of chaos

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Coming up is a brief cosmic story that can change the way you view our chaotic world. First, though, let me give you a context. In my last blog posting I mentioned physicist, David Bohm. Bohm is to the world of physics what Carl Jung is to the world of psychology. Both men were under appreciated in the reductive atmosphere of the 20th Century but are blossoming through a posthumous influence in the 21st Century.

     Bohm wrote the gold standard text on quantum mechanics and then announced to Einstein that he no longer used the term “mechanics” to describe the microscopic domain of sub-atomic particles. Rather, he preferred holistic movement or what he called holomovement, the constant movement of the universe toward aware wholeness. Einstein invited him to explain, and Bohm told the story of crossing the stream I mentioned in my last blog. An admiring Einstein still was not convinced. The universe seemed to him more fixed and stable. Not so, argued Bohm, there are too many hidden variables within the mystery for us to think and live in such a static manner.

     So off Bohm went on a life journey to explore hidden variables lurking beneath the constant movement of the universe. What he discovered offers rich possibilities for our personal disorders and current global chaos.

A Cosmic Story

     Here is the cosmic story of one of his experiments, simplified for our enjoyment. Bohm took a large container that had two moving bowls in it, something like a salad spinner. You know what that contraption is: after washing lettuce, you spin a bowl of greens around until the moisture flies off and collects at the bottom of the container. Bohm filled his laboratory salad-spinner-like container with glycerin, a highly viscous liquid that is colorless and sweet tasting. Glycerin’s most common use is in soap and other beauty products like lotions, though it is also used in the form of nitroglycerin to create dynamite. Bohm used it in his experiment because it easily absorbs other liquids.

     Then, our intrepid scientist took an eye dropper of the sort we once used for nose drops, the kind with a rubber top for squeezing. He pinched the dropper in a jar of black ink and filled it. Holding the dropper over the vat of glycerin, he squeezed again until a large drop of ink fell into the container of liquid glycerin. Next, he moved the experiment along with a regulated motion spinning clock wise like you might with a salad spinner. The blob of ink began to spread out in long tails until it disappeared or was absorbed in the glycerin.

     Thus far, the experiment revealed exactly what 20th Century interpretations of the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics predicted; namely, that the universe is increasing in randomness, chaos, and entropy. The more motion, the more forms tend to disappear. Such a cosmic map is filled with existential despair.

     Enter hidden variables, and everything changes, including the science of the 20th Century.

     Bohm then reversed the motion from sun wise to moon wise. Picture him standing there after having introduced the hidden variable of a reverse motion. Suddenly, strands of ink begin to appear in long and elegant patterns until a blob of ink reappears. The new ink pattern appears as if it is exactly the same as the one he originally dropped into the solution. But it is not! The ink molecules were attracted to the force of the new motion and cohered to each other. But the new coherence constituted a new form.

     Many experiments followed. Scientist, Ilya Prigogine, stood on Bohm’s shoulders to extend the order/disorder/order hypothesis. Prigogine received the Nobel Prize in 1977 for his work on the sequence of order, disorder, and dissipative structures. Bohm’s and, later, Prigogine’s experiments uncovered layers of reality. There is order in the form of a current structure like the original ink blob. But things are not static. All is motion. The current form loses its cohesion and dissipates into another layer, one you might call chaos and disorder.

     Next, the universe surprises us with its hidden variables! Out of the sea of chaos emerges an island of coherence as molecules from the old form are attracted to a new force, a motion from the domain of hidden variables.  So, 20th Century interpretations of the laws of thermodynamics were not so much wrong as they stopped short of exploring hidden variables out of which emerge new and powerful motions. The motion becomes an attractor force that coheres and then creates a new form.

A Brief Reflection

     Lately, I have been meditating on this core experiment from Bohm. We have a serious illness in my immediate family. Surgery and various therapies follow jolting diagnosis. Major illnesses plunge a family into what feels like and, to a certain degree, is disorder, even at times, chaos. As I journey through the chaos, swimming in the glycerin, I feel what may be a new motion, a turning in another direction. I look for other molecules with whom I can cohere. I am in search of a new form, one that looks like the original of the life I had before but is purified by extensive splashing in the sea of chaos. Meanwhile, I take comfort that current disorder has a role. Old structures are dissipating, but new ones, I sense, are on the way.

       As with all cosmic stories: let those with inner eyes, see!