I shared tonight the song I wrote this week. I had in my head that it needed to be touched up somehow, but it turned out to be perfect for me as it was already. I just had to play it all together at once, when my un-callused fingers had rested and could handle playing again. 😛
But I really like the song. And it is in a different way from most of the others. This song is about heartbreak on a human level, and a heartbreak that we all share at some point in life: the heartbreak others don’t see in our lives, the hidden heartbreak.
My heart is aching like it’s breaking
And not only just for me.
How many hearts are the same today
For the things we just don’t see?
Thus goes the chorus. And how utterly true it is.
However, I believe that, though life can be terribly difficult and painful at times, when we operate on a foundation of love, and we make love our aim, our every breath, our life, life is beyond worth it all. I am grateful for this life and for all the love I find and am able to produce and experience within it.
Tonight, I was talking with my brother (the neuroscience one) about how language and math show up in the brain, specifically grammar and foreign language for the language stuff, and then algebra for the math stuff.
It turns out that, the algebra shows up with lights all over the brain, whenever we do it.
Language understanding and production are from specific, individual areas that interact with one another.
And the functional parts of language (think syntax) actually work more like the algebra does in the brain, with lights all over the place.
And so, it makes perfect sense that languages have seemed to me to be the same thing as algebra – I have always referred to them as math, and in various ways, and that is exactly how I see them in my head.
We even talked about how, algebraically, I personally see sentence structure across the languages.
Basically, we turned my nerdy question into an even nerdier conversation, and it was awesome.
Now, I know that I definitely want to see a brain lighting pattern test of my brain, especially around math and languages and grammar!
When we are interested in something, we start learning about it, and we tend to do lots of research on it.
Presently, I am preparing to use a used Prius for a while.
Someone was very upset and expressed concerns of my sanity and logic in doing this.
So, to satisfy my initial belief that it was a reasonable idea, and not just plain crazy, I started looking up important things about Priuses, in order to learn more about them… whatever might be important to know, you know?
In sharing a small bit of what I’m learning with my cousin, she replies, “You will now be well versed on the Prius. I’m imagining you building a PowerPoint presentation”.
And, while I chucked inwardly at the intended joke, I also totally saw the seriousness of her statement, and had to agree: I could so see myself doing that.
In fact, I kind of did for physics class in high school at one point… we researched various hybrid cars and their overall effects on the planet…. let’s just say that, fortunately, things have improved in the hybrid world since then…
Anyway… I think I already have enough information to give a really good ten-minute presentation on using used Priuses…
A friend of mine today shared with me what felt like a somewhat desperate opinion about death.
He said that, since someone important to him died a while back, he is now the only person who knows certain things about her… there is no one left on the planet to carry forward these pieces of her, these memories of her… and, when he dies, all of these parts of her – parts that he finds to be spectacular and worth keeping alive – will be lost to oblivion… much like the great Augustus Waters feared for his own life.*
I, however, have found that I do not see things so desperately as my friend does.
For one thing, I never fully understood Augustus Waters’ fear of being lost… In everything I do, I affect the whole world around me… Whether people know my name or not, whether the trees talk or not, part of me exists in all of them, simply because our paths have crossed… Whether I like it or not, parts of me are spread throughout the world, and those parts will travel on forever, no matter whether my physical body is still breathing and pumping blood.
In a way, I always will exist in this universe… and I do not feel separate from the rest of what is here within it now, nor do I feel like a spectator – I am part of this universe, and it is part of me…
A single drip onto a pond sends ripples that change the whole… even if the fish doesn’t know it, his path was altered because of a drip on the far side of the pond…
And I already know that most of my ripples are more like waves in this life…
Now, for another thing, if things are as this friend expressed them to be, is that not all the more reason to value the unparalleled opportunity it was for him to have been witness to these parts of her?… these beauties are only in existence for this short and brief time in the world… let them not go to waste by brooding over their eventual loss… instead, embrace and love them while they are here now, and be grateful that he had the opportunity to be the one to know them.
Otherwise, it is almost an insult to the beauty of the memories and to the person of whom they are remembered – she was amazing, so let us be amazed…. and the memory of her only lasts so long, so let us embrace it while it lasts, and be grateful that we were honored with such a unique and limited experience.
Just my thoughts from this morning… I think they are part of why death has always been a sort of mixed bag for me… I simultaneously and terrified of it, and feel oddly connected to it and rather unafraid… when it is time, it is time, because a body is ready to move on to the next stage of things… it’s almost not even personal…, even though it is…
::sigh….. oh, well… that’s all I have to say on that for the moment…
*If you don’t get the reference, Google it, and help yourself onto the young and hip bandwagon. 😉
P.S. Turns out that I had something else to say on this… I remembered just now what a friend of mine shared years ago, after her mother died… it is something that resonated with me then, and still does today (specifically the sections in bold, with a big bam on the underlined part at the end)… it is from 2005 by Aaron Freeman:
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.
Here’s a link to the piece of NPR for “All Things Considered”, one of my favorite segments on NPR, in which this all was originally said publicly by Aaron Freeman… it is a lovely three-minute listen. 🙂
My brother asked me if I was doing a carry-on bag for our trip.
I told him that I was, and he said that he was hoping/planning to do the same for the whole trip (with an exclamation point at the end!).
That was in text messages.
Talking over the phone a little while later, after our tickets (one set of them, anyway) were booked, we discussed the bags again, and the matter of bringing only a carry-on bag plus a purse.
‘My biggest concern right now is really what watch I’m gonna bring,’ he says to me.
‘I know what watch I’m bringing!’ I counter, and my mom laughs behind me, knowing full well what my brother must have just said, and laughing at him for it (not at my comment alone).
I only currently wear the watch this same brother gave to me several months ago.
It is awesome, and I wear it lovingly and with pride at the company, at my brother for finding and supporting it, and a little at myself for wearing it.
My brother knows this, and so does my mother, so we all got my teasing joke of a comment, and, once I told my brother that Mom was laughing, we all laughed at his dilemma.
My brother has an entire collection of watches, each one different from the rest, and all of them stellar quality and style…, and I would guess that they add up to around a hundred thousand dollars altogether…
He typically travels with three watches as a minimum – a casual chic, a sport, and a work watch that doubles as formal.
Sometimes, I believe, he brings something like seven, when it’s a longer trip, and he’ll have varied activities in which to participate and events to attend.
I always bring my one watch, and simply remove it whenever I do sport.
(The moment this company comes out with a sports-safe version of their watches, however, I am totally likely to have two watches, and quite suddenly so…. until that time, however, I have just the one.)
We absolutely love my brother’s love of watches, and I laud him for and value his efforts in creating watches with an awesome private watch company that has begun to make watches for him and to use him and his sports to create advertising for their watches…. frankly, he has done what we all dream to do, by turning a dorky passion into something that not only allows him to pursue his passion but to be encouraged in it and to be paid through it, all while always having a wonderful time with it all.
I am proud to share blood with him, and I love having fun with him around his love of watches (and many other things, too, actually).
At the end of our call, I ask him how the boating went with his friends earlier.
He tells me that he took some pictures, and so he’ll send me something.
After a few moments of flipping through photos, he sends me a wrist shot of the watch his buddy temporarily swapped him for two of his watches…
Seriously, brother?… You went boating, and you took pictures, and the only photo that actually comes out of it all is one of your wrist and a watch, where you really can’t tell that you’re out on a boat in the first place?
But, for him, of course it is. 😛
And, to be fair, when I saw the photo, while my secondary comment and thought related to the aforementioned concept, my first thought and comment were immediate: “His Carbotech!”
I knew exactly what watch it was, and even I was excited that my brother was getting to wear this watch… 😛
I turned in the hard copy of my paper (digital copy was earlier today – I just couldn’t get to campus until after work), and then somewhat spontaneously went to dinner with a friend from college (finally, it worked out for both of us).
Dinner was great.
The restaurant we picked, which the friend had picked at random from the two options I gave, was shut down, and so we went to the other option, and the pumpkin red curry special was just what I’d needed and wanted on this cold and windy night.
I ran into an old friend from dance while having dinner, and that was fun.
The friend and I having dinner together talked a lot about boats, because he works with boats and art, and then we finished a crossword puzzle.
It was a nerdy affair, and I definitely loved it – a rather perfect end to the semester for me, really.
Another of my most beloved memories is the time my eldest brother and I went through the top ten logical fallacies together. He’s a total skeptic – not just in life in general, but he actually identifies as “a skeptic” – and we’re both total nerds, so, out of some conversation one day came the discussion of what a logical fallacy was. Utterly intrigued at how he explained them, I wanted to know more than just an example or two. And so, we printed out a list of the top ten most common logical fallacies people use in arguments, each with a brief description with the name of it, and he and I went through the list, one by one.
I would read the name of the fallacy and the brief description, and then I would see if I could come up with another way of saying it and with an example. He would help me whenever I was unsure or stuck in my understanding. It was a fun activity for the two of us, he getting to be the teacher of something he loved and I getting to learn something I found fascinating, and both of us getting to bond further with the other, not just in spending time with one another, but also getting to be nerdy together.
What I find most silly about this was that, as I recall, this was around my brother’s second or third year in college. That’s silly, you see, because that made me 12 or 13 years old. What 13-year-old do you know who references logical fallacies in the middle of discussions, kindly informing the user of the fallacy that his or her point was, due to the use of the fallacy, invalid? Indeed, I don’t know any children at all who do that, and I teach high school. However, I believe that also was right around the time that I started reading a book on quantum physics (because I found what I had learned about it in a documentary to be fascinating, and so I’d bought one of the most popular books by one of the speakers in the documentary [whose name and book title I’d had to memorize carefully when I saw them at the end of the film, because the Internet wasn’t quite a thing yet then, let alone IMDb]).
So, to this day, I still love nerding out with my brother (though it happens with more family members than just with him, he’s the point of this brief trip down Memory Lane). I’m preparing to go visit him in just a few weeks, and I’m looking forward especially just to sitting around and hanging out with him, because the enthusiasm and excitement that arises in our conversations is always spectacular. Nonsense shared is never just a nonsense with us – something nerdy and smart inevitably arises from the stupidest and silliest of comments, making the nonsense oddly sensible and, usually, quite comical in the utter dorki-/nerdiness of it.
I am years into having a smartphone, and my most visited webpages remain almost exactly the same as when I started using one. They are translation websites and dictionary websites. Originally, it was wordreference.com and dictionary.com. Wordreference.com was an easy one, because I had already done the research for my preferred translator for French, Spanish, and German. But, after some research into different dictionary websites, I found that I preferred merriam-webster.com over dictionary.com. So, today, my most visited webpages are wordreference.com and merriam-webster.com. (I would add in Google Translate, because of my constant use with Japanese on it for kanji translations and photo translations, but I had to download the app almost immediately, when I moved to Japan, so that I could use it almost constantly to understand things around me. Therefore, it isn’t a website I’m visiting, but an application I am using.)
I’m just a word and language nerd. It’s like that day at work, earlier this year, when I spent an hour looking up information on certain punctuation marks – I am a word nerd, and there is ample evidence to support the claim.
This evening, by a wonderful unfolding of events, I ended up having tea with my best friend’s little sister. As my best friend’s little sister, she holds a sweet spot in my heart. What’s more, the fact that she’s the first person I’ve seen go from little kid, singing nursery-rhyme-type songs, to a mature young adult (and soon full-blown adult), makes that spot even sweeter.
As we sat in the tapioca teahouse, drinking our warm (Taiwanese style, I think – at least, that’s what a friend of mine saw constantly while in Taiwan, and which we haven’t seen much elsewhere) bubble tea, our attention somehow turned to the menu on the wall. Naturally, we hadn’t thought anything special of it when we actually were looking at the menu to order earlier on, but it was suddenly relevant to our conversation, so our attention turned to it. She is studying Mandarin this year (since August), and I’ve just moved here from Japan. So, we have some common ground on understanding Chinese characters. (For those who don’t know, Japanese kind of stole the characters from Chinese, and adapted them a bit, so loads of them look exactly or almost exactly the same and have the same or very similar meanings.)
We joyfully pointed out that “ice” was on the end of each name in the ‘Snowy Drink’ category, and that “little” was next to one other character on the “Snacks” sections – likely ‘little meal’ or ‘little food’. Something like that. And then we discussed how we were scouring the menu, picking out little pieces that we understood. It was like a fun little puzzle that we were putting together, piece by piece… one that we know will take months, even years, but the timing of which doesn’t seem to bother us in the slightest. We’re just excited that we’re able to make the little sense of it all that we already can. And we aren’t even using the same language to do it, technically, making it simultaneously that much sillier and that much more awesome.
So, we got to enjoy one another’s company and be nerdy language-lovers together, while sipping warm asian versions of English tea (Earl Grey) on a cold, cold night (for Houston, anyway). Blessings abound when open our minds and schedules to them, it seems. And I am grateful for this one in particular. 🙂