Friday, April 15, 2011

We're here to share stories

While I'll leave it to the great philosophers to figure out the meaning of life, and there are as many words as stars trying to do just that, this much seems obvious:

Humans are, in this neck of the woods anyway, the best at telling the story of our universe. We are critters of awareness.

I just wandered back from a quick jaunt to the beach to watch the sun set on the Delaware Bay. The sand was ridiculously cool, the water a tad warmer than last week, the sky pale pink, and the soft waves resonated one with the next. The air, well, nothing clears out the conscious brain like a whiff of bay air. I'd describe it to you if I could. I cannot.

No one can.

I saw an old friend this week--we've known each other for longer than most humans around today have been alive.I didn't used to believe age meant anything--I do now. We came to the conclusion that maybe we're just here to share stories.

Stories are about awareness. Being human is about awareness, as good a reason as any to teach science.

Here's a list of simple things any of us can do today to increase our awareness:
  • Plant some basil
  • Walk barefoot.
  • Brew some mead.
  • Grind some flour. Mix it with yeast and honey. Knead it. Bake it.
  • Clam or fish or hunt or gather from the wild.
  • Stare at some stars
  • Sniff cherry blossoms
Yep, a bit slanted, and likely not the same list you'd generate. That's not the point.

You cannot define the universe, but you can become uniquely aware of your tiny chunk of it. Or not.

I think education is about preventing the "Or not." I doubt Arne Duncan or Governor Christie would agree (or even have an idea of what I am talking about), but I doubt either get Keats or Yeats, either.

OK, not a science post per se, but Yeats and biology are more closely related than biology and engineering.
Kudos to Tom Hoffman for turning me to Michael Ruhlman.


Tom Hoffman said...

Yes, that link was for you. Also, I'm reading a book that I keep thinking you'd love, even though I'm not too far into it yet -- Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.

Tom Hoffman said...

(which was a Ruhlman recommendation).

Tracy Rosen said...

The truth about stories is that that's all we are ~ Thomas King (it's my blog's tagline)

Kate said...

Tomorrow is the first night of Passover. We will sit at the table and tell a story of a time that humans survived when it seemed impossible. Along the way we will tell stories of past seders (Elijah? Who is Elijah and why is he coming?) and tell stories about Easters (fast upon us) and weddings (we are preparing for a family wedding in May) and Mom.

We will light candles. We will drink wine and tell stories.

doyle said...

Dear Tom,

I will have to go peek at it. Your feed may be the most informative feed on the whole internets.

Or maybe we're both nuts. But I doubt it.

Dear Tracy,

It's all anything is--as long as we can include the models we create to help us (pretend to) grasp the universe, I'd agree.

Dear Kate,

G_d bless. Prayers for you and yours--the missing chair hurts.

Kate said...

I only cried three times tonight. It was a lovely evening.