Time, the Infinite Equation

I was watching "Firefly" this afternoon, and one episode features a defective engine part.  Without that one part, there was no way the engine could work correctly.  I think my brain is missing the Linear Thought Regulator, which would give me logical idea progressions.  I swear the thing is gone, maybe dissolved or burned-out, and sadly I don't have Kaylee the mechanic to rig me a new one.

So we had a lovely sunset over Lake Tom this evening, highlighted by a glowing contrail moving left to right.  This led me to think about algebra, specifically how geeked I used to get at graphing things.  I always felt like I was there at some great intersection in the middle of vast nothingness.  There, at the point (4,3) (or whatever), two lines intersected.  They had different slopes and y-intercepts, but there–at that one tiny point in all of nothingness–they intersected.  Their equations were different, their pasts were completely different, as were their futures.  But for that one spot, they were united.

We silly humans are like that.  Our trajectories differ, but for whatever reason, we intersect.  Change anything in our equations, and our intersections move.  We miss the train our soulmate was on; we walk by the flower two seconds too late, and suffer a fatal bee sting; or maybe our parents end up dancing with somebody else prom night, and we are never born.  "This World" is a little box in the vast nothingness, with time on one axis and space on the other.  Let the wrong variable into our equations, and we miss the box, miss out on this life.

Memorial Day is when we remember those who sacrificed to keep our equations as they should be.  My grandfather served as a corpsman after D-Day.  He survived, thank God.  This is the day when we remember those who didn't survive, those who took the bullet my grandfather might otherwise have gotten.  If he doesn't come back, maybe my grandmother remarries and moves away, and thus my mom never meets my dad.

Human existence is an infinite python, stretched through "This World."  The serpent was there before it encountered each of us, and it will be around long after we're used up and excreted.  But we change it; each of us change "This World" with our presence.  A rat's body might only be in a python a few days, but its flesh helps build muscle, bones, nerves.  Each of us changes the world somehow, influencing somebody–maybe one person, perhaps a multitude.

The Hitlers of the world certainly leave their mark writ large.  Less flashy, less singularly recognized, but equally indelible, are each of those who fight the wars and lose their lives.  It is them we honor on Memorial Day.  Without their sacrifices, I might not be here, half-asleep after a long day, somehow thought-surfing from a beautiful sunset, through my lack of linear thought, to algebra, to putting us all in the belly of the infinite python called humankind.  I hope you had a spectacular and safe Memorial Day.  Thanks for surfing along with me tonight.

It really was a helluva sunset.


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13 Responses to “Time, the Infinite Equation”

  1. I've always had mixed feelings about this day since the one military man in my family who didn't come back was my Uncle Tad, who was drafted into the Japanese Navy as an interpreter. He went down on a Japanese battleship at the Battle of Midway, possibly the only American citizen aboard. I have a hard time believing his death was justified: my mother's family, who were in Japan just for a visit, got stuck there after Pearl Harbor, and they were treated like crap by the Imperial military police for refusing to surrender their American citizenship.Meanwhile, my dad and his family were trucked off to an internment camp in Arkansas, from whence he was drafted into the American army. Happily, he came back unhurt and with a few medals on his uniform: but I find the whole thing so ironic I can barely stand to think about it sometimes. I can honor a soldier's sacrifice, but never the wars fought, even for "great causes."

  2. I can honor a soldier's sacrifice, but never the wars fought, even for "great causes."Hear, hear. I forgot who it was who said the best solution to war was to have the opposing leaders get together in a ring, and slug it out with socks filled with horse manure. Thanks for sharing this, Professor.

  3. Lake Tom is beautiful at sunset.

  4. Your comments about "This World" remind me of my own thoughts on cause and effect. How everything is chaos arising out of one choice, which leads to another and another, and but for one slight change in the choice … therein lies another life not lived. It's mind-boggling, really. Thanks for the gorgeous picture and the seasoned thoughts.

  5. I never thought about intersections that way. 🙂

  6. It's remarkable, Tom, that I was talking about your intersections in another guise with friends not more than 2 days ago. Each thing that binds us together is so tenuous. Fantastic post. Lest we forget.

  7. Thanks, Calley. I shall pass on your compliment to the lake.

  8. I agree, Eve: the world is certainly rife with chaos, and I think one of our most basic human needs is to find order and normalcy therein. The whole damn thing seems a tenuous house of cards some days. Thank God for NyQuil and sunsets.

  9. It's hard to make Algebra 2 geekier than it already was, but I think I've done it. lol I hope I didn't ruin fun equation graphing for you. 😉

  10. Thanks, dear Riss. You're right: I'm always amazed at what binds us together, even being 10,000 miles apart and thinking/talking about the same things with friends. It could be coincidence, two intelligent, thoughtful people pondering lifes oddities. Perhaps, too, it's just that we share a common pathology. 😉

  11. No no. Not at all. I mean, I follow Indexed. Graphing is fun.

  12. I just got around to looking at Indexed. HI-LARIOUS! Thanks for the tip. It is now bookmarked.

  13. 🙂 You're very welcome.(Typing in the dark is hard. Geez. I had to type that top line 5 times before I got it right.)

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