Wednesday, May 04, 2011


One of my favorite sayings has always been: "Why is it that people who long for immortality get bored on a rainy Sunday afternoon?" A sprinkling of boredom, of course, has it's place as one of the myriad of minor spices which add flavor to life, but like any spice, it can be overpowering if overused.

I've been blessed in that I very seldom get bored; I'm far too conscious that the minutes, hours, days, months, and years pass through the hour-glass of time far, far too rapidly and that once they are gone they can never return. I do admit to coming uncomfortably close to boredom when sitting for any length of time in a waiting room with no immediate distractions on which to focus my attention. But even then, with a slight shift of my mental gears, I can step back from the brink by moving from the real world into the vast universe of my mind.

One of the best things about never really having grown up, emotionally, is the ability wonder...really wonder, in all senses of the word...and to be able to look at the world as though it had never been seen before. The power of wonder is inestimable. Have you, for example, ever stared at your hand? Really stared at it, concentrating all your attention on it: the creases which form when, looking down at the back of your hand, you raise your fingers toward you; the cords of muscles which control each finger's movement, the fine blue veins which meander just below the surface of the skin. Make a fist and see how taut the skin becomes, how the knuckles, stretching the skin, become almost white. And don't just your mind to think about the infinite complexity involved in each action.

Think about how much of what we do is completely unconscious/automatic, from the beating of our hearts to inhaling and exhaling, to putting one foot in front of the other when we walk, to getting up from or sitting down in a chair, to the movement of our fingers while typing a blog onto a computer keyboard.

Write the word "the" on a plain piece of paper, or just pick it--or any single word, for that matter--out of something you're reading. Focus all your attention on it, zeroing in your eyes and your mind just to that one word and soon you will get the sensation of not only never having seen it ever before in your life but no idea of what it means.

Why is the human body physically unable to sneeze without shutting our eyes? Why does it take so much concentration--and then is sometimes impossible--to pat the top of our head with one hand while rubbing our belly with the other? How is it that there are parts of our own bodies we have never seen and can never see without a mirror or a photograph?

We are, quite simply, unaware of infinitely more--even in our own lives--than we are aware.

And this fascination extends far beyond the body. We all adhere without thought or question to a dizzying array of societal and cultural laws and customs and social mores of which we are only really aware when they are violated.

How and why human society developed presents a galaxy of opportunities for honing the curiosity. Why, when we're driving, do we pull to the side when we hear the siren of an emergency vehicle approaching? Why, when we enter a grocery store, do we almost inevitably turn right rather than left? It's been estimated that nearly 90 percent of the world's population tends to be right-handed but reads from left to right. Why is Chinese, Hebrew, and Arabic read right to left? How did that come about?

If you live in a city, just look out the window and take a minute to wonder how civilization/laws/customs/habits...came to be. How much detail, how much thinking and planning went into every aspect of all those things we see every single day and to which we give not an instant's thought, from the traffic lights at street corners to the workings of the engines of the vehicles which obey them?

Obviously it is impossible for anyone to contemplate all these things, let alone comprehend them. There would be no time to live life if we spent all our time wondering about things. But, oh, how fully a little pondering can fill up a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back.

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