It’s a bit curious how a casual conversation can result in a flood of unexpected memories. During a casual Sunday afternoon coffee, I started talking about studying Italian in Italy and suddenly found myself transported back through time and space to a wonderful vacation day.
If we are to accept the Quantum Mechanics notion of multiple parallel universes, then every possible lifetime that I might create with my choices must be happening in one of those universes. Does that mean I can do “whatever I want” and have no responsibility for the consequences of my choices? This post explores the insights into this question offered by a few movies and theater plays.
It is an intriguing idea that every choice we make creates a branch into a parallel universe, yet this is not the reality that any of us experience in our real lives. We must make a choice and then we experience only the consequences that flow from that choice. So what distinguishes a good choice from a poor one?
We all experience our world as a continuum of choices where each choice forever precludes the alternate paths. It’s obvious, right? But what if this “obviousness” is misleading? What if there could be parallel universes which could accommodate every possible alternative? Quantum Mechanics offers some insight into this possibility.
As I walked past the church and cemetery in our village, I started thinking about how curious a lifetime is when viewed at a distance. There are the dates of your first and last breath, but these “bookend” dates really have nothing to do with defining a good or a wasted life. What really matters is what each person did during the years in between. Did they make it about money and fame? Or did they make it about love, relationship and caring for others?
Thích Nhất Hạhn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, prolific author, poet, teacher, and founder of the Plum Village, died three weeks ago at the age of 95. He was known as the “father of mindfulness” and is often considered to be one of the main inspirations for engaged Buddhism. He was always referred to simply as “Thay” (“teacher” in Vietnamese). Thay had a profound influence on my life. I want to share a bit of that story in memory of and as a tribute to a remarkable man.
The chess world championship match that just concluded in Dubai reminded me of a time when I was in my twenties and of another championship match that had a major influence in my life and helped me to understand some important things about myself.
I was sitting at the window today, watching the snow falling in my backyard. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because the Covid pandemic has put on hold so many of the activities I love to be involved in. For some reason I started thinking about my university days at UCLA. It was a great school and one of its many positive points was its proximity to the Santa Monica beaches and some of the best surfing in the continental United States. It was there that I learned an important life lesson.
My good buddy Bogdan and I were talking this spring about going on a bike tour together. It looked like it would be safe by the summer as the pandemic seemed to be subsiding. When I found out that Bogdan had never followed the Isar upstream to Bad Tölz, it seemed like a perfect answer. I had done this trip alone several years ago and really enjoyed it, so I thought it would be fun to do again together. As the song goes, I’ve seen both sides now – and doing it with a good friend is so much more fun!
It has been nearly three months since my last blog entry. When I published “Fishing With My Father”, I had no idea that that would be virtually the last productive thing I would do before disaster struck in the form of a twisted bowel segment that would land me in surgery and the hospital for eleven days. This is a bit of that story and what I learned from it.
One of the interesting things that has happened as I have gotten older is that my memories of my father and the role that he played in my life have evolved and changed. I have come to appreciate more and more the lessons he taught me as I have struggled with raising my own children and making my way through life.
It’s one thing to know that your father’s heritage was German and your mother’s was Irish and quite another to actually experience those cultures first hand. Living in Germany for several years allowed me to understand my father far better than I ever did while he was still alive. A vacation in Ireland had the same result for me with my mother.