Friday, July 22, 2011


Each of us, as we travel through life, develop our own individual philosophies during the journey, based on an infinitely varied combination of experiences, assumptions/understandings, and our emotional responses to them. They usually develop slowly, often without our giving them much if any conscious thought, until they are a part of us. I have several, one of which I acknowledged only this morning, and I found I immodestly find most of my philosophies...rather profound.

Back in the 1950s, my father gave my mother a beautiful grandfather clock, which has been part of my life since Mom's death. I find its ticking and its chimes comforting, though the sounds have been so ingrained into my life--rather like philosophies, now that I think of it--that I often am unaware of them. Grandfather clocks work on the principle of weight and gravity interacting. Three weights suspended from chains are slowly moved down by gravity. Each swing of the pendulum releases a tiny bit of the tension on the weights, which gravity pulls downward until it's time to pull the weights back up to rewind the clock. It is the swinging of the pendulum moving the small gears holding the counterweights which produces the familiar "tick-tock."

This morning I realized that life is very much like a grandfather clock. We are born fully "wound," like the clock, and each day of our lives is a "tick" of morning and "tock" of evening. And very slowly our lives pass until the weights of our existence have reached the bottom of their chains, and we, like the clock, stop. Unfortunately, unlike the clock, our lives cannot be rewound.

But having so said, I amend it with another of my basic philosophies/beliefs: that of time being a mobius strip, constantly replaying eternity. Our individual lives, though an incalculably small segment of eternity, therefore keep recurring over and over again, and while that means that we are doing the same things, instant by instant, somewhere, and making the same mistakes and suffering the same pain and sadness--and exhilarating in the same loves and joys--each second is, to us, new and very-first-time. This in no way conflicts with the idea of free will. We do the same thing over and over and each time, with each crossroads, we are free to choose which one we take; the fact that we choose to take the same one every single time is simply part of the loop.

And that philosophy/belief leads me to yet another, regarding death and what lies beyond. I believe nothing more strongly or with more sincerity that when we die, we simply return to the state that preceded our birth. Death is the end of life. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no heaven and no hell. And how can one be afraid of nothing? The wish for something after death is provided by the mobius strip of eternity; every instant of our lives is being replayed constantly, and has always been replayed and will always be replayed. Therefore the concepts of life and death are in fact moot.

Not all philosophies are, or need to be, profound. Many, perhaps most, are basic, every-day guides to how we live our lives and view and interact with others. They need not even appear to be realistic, but as long as we hold to them, they are valid. I believe, for instance, in the goodness of our species, despite frequently harsh and overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It is not the reality of our philosophies which matters in the end, it is the comfort they provide us.

And one final personal philosophy, if I might: even though I cannot see beyond this tiny segment of the mobius strip of eternity in which I exist, I truly believe it is leading, as inexorably as each step in a journey, each of us forward to our destiny.

Pondering our individual philosophies and trying to trace their origins can be a fascinating mental exercise...if, in the end, probably pointless. But, like an old fashioned razor strop, it hones the mind.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back. And please take a moment to check out for information on Dorien's "Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs."

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