Consciousness–Part One

Cosmic Consciousness

Cosmic Consciousness (Photo credit: Rainbow Gryphon)

A dear friend and I have been talking about this concept.  She read in a “Scientific American” column that current brain research states that there can be no consciousness and therefore no self without a body to put it in.  I can’t find my copy of this particular issue, so this is all I have to go on right now, but I do know that scientists have so far been unable to prove otherwise and for them (and for my friend) there can be no knowledge, no truth, without proof.  Indeed, some scientists seem to develop a level of smugness regarding this issue, rather as if they were the only fonts of wisdom and the rest of us poor souls are living in a fools’ paradise thinking that there is anything other than electric synapses and what we can see, feel and touch.  My friend needs such proof herself and is quite depressed at the loss of a link to some kind of purpose in life, some larger something that we are here to do.

My last post touched on this:  whether beings have a purpose, have lives determined for them by outside forces, or are completely autonomous and subject only to random chance.  But my friend brought me a much larger issue, that of whether there is anything apart from the self-determinism of chemical and electrical brain function; in other words, a soul.  In fact, she also brought to me the issue of whether only proof, primarily by the scientific method, can arrive at truth.  And she reiterated the issue of outside forces acting upon living beings.  That is, apart from what humans loosely call the forces of nature.

English: Flowchart of the steps in the Scienti...

English: Flowchart of the steps in the Scientific Method (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her points were these:

Firstly, that if consciousness can only reside within a physical matrix, believing in a soul, which by definition is not connected to a physical body, must mean that the person believing such a thing believes in elves and fairies and ghosts.  All or nothing.  She stated that one cannot believe in one incorporeal, metaphysical thing and not believe in all of them.

Secondly, she returned to an older discussion of ours.  What is the purpose of living, of having a self?  We had talked before about reincarnation, about living serial lives in this world or in others.  Her question then became why can she not remember any of those other lives?  What purpose could they possibly serve if there is no memory of past lives, from which to learn and improve.

Thirdly, and this was more implicit than explicit in our conversation, if this is all there is, if we are an accidental combination of electricity and chemicals, how did consciousness arise?  The latest studies indicate that consciousness does not survive the death of the physical structure in which it is housed.  If so, that’s final and all our striving is worthless.

My answers and comments during our conversation were by no means singularized by intellect or wisdom.  She caught me rather flat-footed, because I have no idea how to have a discussion regarding the proof of something that I do not think can be known using the scientific method.  Which, of course, led us to a brisk exchange regarding the circular reasoning of concepts of faith and belief.  We both agree that the idea that belief will bring you to knowledge and truth begs its own questions.  So that’s not helpful.  And belief–faith–is one of the reasons the scientific method was promulgated to start with.  Stating that the sun goes around the earth because it’s written in the Bible and that’s what received wisdom says doesn’t help us arrive at truth.  It forces an already provided truth upon us.  The statement doesn’t answer the why of the whole thing and it doesn’t allow for any curiosity.  It is that it is.

Remember that sentence, because we will return to it.  Probably in another post, the way this is going.

In the meantime, let’s go through my responses to my friend’s concerns.

Firstly, I sort of flapped around like a chicken trying to get off the ground, but when I managed to think of something, anything, I did come up with the idea that a soul is, by its nature, not measurable in any kind of physical way.  (See above paragraphs about belief being a circular system and you’ll see how well this went.  My friend may be upset about the idea, but she’s anything but stupid.)

Secondly, I suggested that if consciousness ends upon death, we won’t know.  It won’t be just me who ends when I die, but the entire universe, since I will no longer be “conscious” to perceive it.  Thus turning (without meaning to) the whole discussion into solipsism.  Sigh.  She also pointed this out.  I was about to go into my very imperfect understanding of phenomenology (see Husserl and Heidegger), but she’d gotten to me with the solipsism problem.

Thirdly, I tried to discuss it from the point of view of the “Ich”, which is a term she and I came up with in a prior conversation.  It’s German for “I”.  We used it to designate a soul, a consciousness, that always exists, whether the container dies or not.  I have always believed, with of course no possible evidence, that if the universe does not die with me, then I (or rather, my “Ich”) does not die, but continues throughout the universe and beyond, because there has always been and always will be my unique “Ich”.  This isn’t just solipsism, by the way, but a pervasive ego that I try not to show too often to the world.   But of course my argument here is that we all have one, every being that ever lived.

This belief of mine has a corollary, which makes even less logical sense.  The corollary states that it may not be so that the “Ich” persists and is singular.  It may simply be that there is always an “Ich”, even if there is no connection between the bodies containing that “Ich” from lifetime to lifetime.  English, unfortunately, is NOT good at these kinds of constructs.  But then, neither am I.  The basic theory, that there is always an “Ich”, could, in this idea, be simply that when one “Ich” dies as the body does, another is born, into another body.  I am finding it impossible to put this into words.  But then, the thought processes I’m pursuing are a little inchoate in and of themselves.  Very well, what I mean by “Ich” simply means self-awareness.  The fact, and this is indeed a fact, is that I am self-aware, because I have a unique consciousness that resides only inside this container, and so I look out at the universe from within this container and move within the world as a self-directed living being who can and does contemplate these fuzzy philosophical concepts.  My friend’s response to this was basically “what good is that if there’s no connection?”  How can there be any purpose, and reason, for there to be an “Ich” if there’s no connection, no memory, no way to LEARN?

Hindus believe the self or soul (atman) repeat...

Hindus believe the self or soul (atman) repeatedly takes on a physical body. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At that point, while my mind was bubbling over with wildly illogical and half-formed thoughts, we had to end the conversation because of an appointment she had, and there is where the whole thing was left.

So now, in an attempt to think through the whole thing, I am writing it down, as best I can remember, from our conversation.  Unfortunately, I have read only the basics of philosophy, so I am thinking about concepts I don’t fully understand.  And tying the whole meshugas to religion isn’t really helpful because, again, belief and faith are circular systems, containing within them their own reasons and their own logical fallacies.

The basic situation is this:  The scientific method can discover and pursue and experiment with anything that leaves a physical trace.  So of course it can detect consciousness in the electrical and chemical activity of the brain.  And so of course it cannot detect and therefore prove any phenomenon which does NOT leave a physical trace.  Oddly enough, in the outer reaches of quantum physics, apparently there are particles which behave in a way that seems, shall we say, quizzical, in light of my above sentences.  And there is always “Schrödinger’s Cat”, which is shorthand for a thought experiment in which a cat is put in a steel box with a bit of nuclear material which decays in one of two ways.  In one way, nothing else happens.  In the other, the nuclear material decaying breaks a bottle of hydrocyanic acid, which kills the cat.  Schrödinger’s point was that until the box is opened, it is impossible to determine whether or not the cat is dead.  Apart from being very hard on the (theoretical) cat, the whole concept makes my head ache, as it did and still does make the heads of physicists ache.  Physicists, and this is my point, have, by taking one step after another using the scientific method rigorously, found themselves floating in a space made up of objects that are not objects, processes that cannot be pinned down, waves turning into particles, particles buzzing around like bees and interacting with waves that, meanwhile, are not acting like waves, and with everything in the universe being modified by time and thus turning into strings.   And we can’t know what they’re all doing until we open the box.

The universe, it seems, may be as fuzzy as the concepts of consciousness, soul, life everlasting and purpose that I am reaching for.  From this rather strange perspective, it seems that proof itself, with its concomitant ability to know anything at all, may have to become as fuzzy as Schrödinger’s cat.  This does not help my friend with her dilemma, or me with mine.  But it opens a vast array of possibilities.

Including, of course, how all this got started.  The Godhead?  Or itself?  An outside force?  Or an internal chaos that resolves into form?  And that becomes one of the big questions for humans pondering the point of it all.  Because with one end of this spectrum, we get purpose.  With the other, we don’t.

My preference in this duality is definitely for purpose.  I believe that the universe has a reason for existence, and us within it.  Because my consciousness, my soul, is currently imprisoned in this physical container, I cannot think about what this reason is with facility, because it is too alien for electrical synapses and chemical reactions to parse.  But I know there is a reason for our existence, even if I have no idea what that reason is.  Even if the reason it so far away from the abilities of any electrical synapse to ever know.  I do think that consciousness, defined by both scientists and me to be a result of electrical synapses and chemical reactions, does indeed die with the body.  But I also believe that I have a soul that is not material and not a function of electricity, chemicals or particles whizzing around the universe.  I believe that my soul will survive my physical death, and that it has a purpose for its survival which will be either revealed to me or that I will figure out.  And possibly even modify.  Because otherwise this huge clockwork, this whizzing of particles and foaming of waves and formation of strings, makes no sense.  No, I don’t think it’s just for me, all this purpose and meaning.  But I think I am a part of it all, a persistent and perpetual part.  And if that means I also need to believe in fairies and ghosts and elves and even unicorns, well, I already do.

Speaking of parts, this is Part I of this discussion.  My friend and I will not cease talking about this.  And next time, I will write, perhaps, about my take on some of the theories about what happens next.  We’ll all see if they make any kind of sense.

Scientific American

Scientific American (Photo credit: FeeBeeDee)

Memorial Day

Memorial Day Commemoration 2008

Tomorrow will be the day Memorial Day is celebrated in the United States of America.  The date, which moved around a bit while the holiday was known as Decoration Day, was fixed at May 30 for many years, but in the last couple of decades it was changed to the last Monday in May, thus allowing a three-day weekend for most working people.  More and more, it seems that the holiday marks the beginning of summer rather than what it was intended to mark:  to memorialize, remember and gratefully thank the more than a million men and women who have lost their lives serving in our country’s armed forces.

In these days, after more than ten solid years of war, more families have ties to the military, it seems.  And more, sadly, have lost relatives and friends and loves to war.  (I seem to be using the word “more” a great deal in this post, but that’s appropriate.  For all that the spiritual says “we ain’t gonna study war no more”, it seems that war will always be with us, a larger and larger specter on the horizon, a horrible biological marker we can’t seem to rid ourselves of.  As a character said in the movie Gladiator, “there will always be somebody left to fight.”

Memorial Day got its start during and after the Civil War, when Southern families would decorate the graves of their fallen soldiers with flags and flowers, usually in May, although the actual date varied from state to state.  Later on, it became a country-wide holiday, marking not just the Civil War, but all wars in which United States military personnel have fought and died.  Unlike such holidays as Veteran’s Day (which is the current name for the holiday marking the end of the First World War and which now serves to mark the service of Armed Forces members in all wars, whether they were killed or not), Memorial Day is a day to thank those that gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in service to their country.

American Civil War Graves

American Civil War Graves (Photo credit: smilla4)

I was a young woman during the war of Viet Nam, a time during which military service got itself tarred with the brush of the political decisions made regarding that war.  My memories of those days are still bitter, with people greeting returning soldiers, alive and dead, with scorn and sometimes worse.  Memorial Day seemed rather to mock our nation’s blistering discord over that war that played itself out in so many ways against the soldiers who had very little choice about fighting.  It is probably not remembered now as much, but during those days, there was a draft, and soldiers went to Viet Nam because they had to, not because they volunteered.  Most of them served honorably, although it sometimes seemed our media deliberately chose to find stories of dishonor.  I wish to make this clear:  I did not approve of the reasons for our military involvement in Viet Nam and was opposed to its continuation.  However, both as the child of a man who had retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel and as a young adult who could not figure out why anybody, let alone members of the same generation, should vilify soldiers conscripted into service, I was appalled at the treatment of veterans and the dismissal of those who died in that jungle.

Since then, how many wars have there been?  Police actions, some were called.  Other names were used for other military ventures, because there is a law that while the American President can deploy troops, only Congress can declare war.  And now, for the first time in how many years, we are fighting only (ONLY!) one war, the one in Afghanistan, a country that has so far absorbed and spit back every foreign military venture taking place within its borders, from Britain to Russia to us.  Only one war.  I don’t remember who said it, but I clearly remember some wise person saying that there is always a war somewhere.

Wars are the big things that history books love to talk about, the movement of troops, the decisions of generals, the pageantry of it all.  Meanwhile, there are individual human beings, not toy soldiers, on those wrecked fields, driving those caissons and tanks, getting killed or, as is so very common in today’s modern war, getting severely injured in either or both brain and body.  Individual human beings.  People who could have sweethearts, wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, children of their own.  Lives.  Once such people were openly called “cannon fodder.”  It was always an ironic, grim designation, because it was so awfully true.

Quartermaster Corps branch insignia

Quartermaster Corps branch insignia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My father, as I said above, was in the Army.  He joined when he was very young.  Since he didn’t have a birth certificate, he was able to lie about his age.  He worked his way up to sergeant in the Quartermaster Corps.  This division of the United States Army handled supply and infrastructure, and my father started his military life as an army cook (or more probably he worked up to being an army cook by peeling potatoes like every other soldier).  When World War II broke out, he was stationed in Panama.  The Army had to vastly increase its size to meet the demands of WWII, and so required many more officers than it had needed since the Civil War.  It instituted an Officers’ Candidate School, for which my father applied and was accepted.  He graduated as a Second Lieutenant and remained in the Quartermaster Corps, achieving the rank of Major while on active duty in what was then Persia (now Iran and parts of Iraq) supervising the construction of the Red Ball Express across Persia to transport materiel to Russia, then our ally.   (Note:  the Wikipedia entry for “Red Ball Express” discusses only the convoys through France, but my father told me himself that the same designation was used for this highway through Iraq and Iran.)  He was wounded in the leg during an attack by Bedouins, thus managing to achieve the difficult task of getting wounded in furtherance of the war but not in battle.  And also managing to predate by some sixty-odd years the exact experience of our troops in today’s war in Iraq, only now the Bedouins are called insurgents.  He recovered, but his leg was never right again, and he was rotated back to the United States, where he served at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin and was retired in 1947, with the usual bump in rank and with full medical disability.  He died, partially as a consequence still of that wound incurred in Persia, in 1960 and is buried, as was his fond wish, in Arlington National Cemetery.

My brother, David, served in the Korean War (ahem, police action), in the Navy.  He was deployed on a ship that patrolled the Atlantic Ocean from Cuba up to Nova Scotia, I believe, and was delighted that his service was routine, boring and without much incident.  He served three years, I believe, and then went to college and an eventual working life as a systems analyst, creating computer programs, sometimes for the United States military, thus coming full circle.  I have a picture that I unfortunately cannot find or I would post it showing him grinning in his sailor uniform.  My brother enjoys good health and a good life in California and long may he do so.

My husband, when I married, had retired from a career in the United States Air Force, in which he served as a surgeon.  At one time, he was one of the doctors retrieving our astronauts (in the Gemini Program, I believe).  His second to last deployment was as Command Surgeon at the Air Force Academy.  He retired as a full Colonel and moved to our small town of Estes Park, where he acted as Chief Surgeon of the Estes Park Medical Center.  He and I divorced (while living in California) in 1985 and he returned to Louisiana, his home state.  He died there, the victim of esophageal cancer, in the late eighties.

I am so very fortunate that my loved ones, those I personally met and knew, did not die in battle.  I have ancestors, as have we all, who did die in one or another battle, in this country or another one, fighting some war or another that now exists only in history books.  I have a direct ancestor on my mother’s side who fought in the Revolutionary War as a member of a militia in Virginia.  (He survived it.)  It is that relative that allows me to claim that I am related to Davy Crockett.  I can only assume that some great-great grandfathers or uncles of mine fought in the Civil War and probably in all other wars we have fought as a country.  My stepfather served in the 22nd Engineers Corp in France in World War I (where he lost his hearing as a result of mustard gas, or so I was told).  I would imagine that nobody reading this could actually say that no family member, no ancestor, ever died in a war, ever fought in a war.  It is an ugly, continuing part of the human condition.  I would not suggest that wars are never justified.  I’m not a pacifist (I try not to be any type of “ist”, actually).  Certainly, in my reading, it seems very much the truth that World War II had to be fought, for reasons that became totally clear only after the war ended.  And it also seems that the Civil War could not have been avoided and, although it was not actually the reason it was fought, the end of slavery that resulted from the Civil War is an unreservedly good thing (although we didn’t handle the peace arising from the Civil War with any kind of grace).  Other wars seem to me to be fought for reasons that do not rise to the term “necessary” or “good”.  But then I am not as informed as I perhaps should be.  I will not pronounce on our current and immediately past wars, because they are too close for there to be any judgment, at least on my part.

But they are fought by individual human beings.  And on Memorial Day, we honor those who have died in battle, those who have put their own bodies between their beloved home and war.  Our troops have been (along with two very big oceans) a primary reason that these ugly wars have not been fought on American soil since the Civil War–at least until terrorism changed the face of war culminating (so far) in the attack on and destruction of the World Trade Center.  Those women and men who have died in battle have saved countless civilian lives as well as the lives of fellow soldiers.  It is too much to ask of any human being, but that we survive as a country today has much to do with their service.

In my small town of Estes Park, there is a lawn in front of the Public Library on Elkhorn Avenue.  Currently, in honor of Memorial Day, the library staff has “planted” hundreds of tiny American flags in this lawn.  It is beautiful and it brings tears to the eye.  I would rather see the boys and girls themselves, all alive and spiffed up in their dress uniforms, than flags, but seeing the flags helps me remember, helps remind me in the midst of the barbecue and the Memorial Day sales, to silently thank them all.

Sign posted along the Red Ball route

Sign posted along the Red Ball route (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rainy Sunday

Rain and mist.  My little mountain town looks as if it should be situated on a loch in Scotland.  All we need is a castle and some heather.  Instead we have high mountains we can’t see today, lots of pines, budding aspen and the start of a summer of wildflowers, small darting creatures and lots of elk.  Here’s a picture of a sleek gentleman in velvet wading in one of Estes Park‘s rivers on a sunnier day.  The picture is courtesy of Roxy Whalley, and many more of her wonderful photographs can be found at Images By Roxy  and A Picture A Day 2012.  Right now, and of course I can’t remember what I did with my camera, there are a number of elk lying down in the wet grass across the street, only their ears and growing antlers visible to me.  Sometimes I  need to remember and express my gratitude for being able to live here, because it is a gift.

. 05-12-12 - Wapiti in the River

On such a rainy Sunday, while feeling grateful for my blessings and sending up (around? through? wherever!) my thanks to the Author, I’m reminded that among those blessings and thanks are the choices I am given to make and the results of the choices I have made.  Sometimes, I think we all–I know I do–can feel coerced into the lives we’re living, caught somehow by circumstance or fate or some kind of determinism.  Why am I here?  We ask this, and we’re not (as the joke would have it) trying to figure out why we’re standing in the laundry room (in this joke, we’re looking for our glasses).  But of course, what we’re really looking for is either purpose or at least an explanation.

There are many sources from religions to philosophies to governments to mothers to science to (probably the wisest) comedians to tell us what our purpose is, explaining why we’re here.  We all know what they are and each of us has already or needs soon to come to terms with how much those explanations personally resonate.  But in a (very) superficial survey, I would state that reasons given for the existence and ultimate purpose of human beings, of life on this planet, of this planet’s own existence, of the existence of the universe, range from (a) utter determinism and predestination to (z) (or maybe zzzzzzz) mere chance.  Somewhere in the middle of that vast spectrum you will find my own microscopic dot, I’m sure.

choose determinism

choose determinism (Photo credit: alyceobvious)

But today, I keep thinking that for every situation, place, mess, glory or whatnot in which I’ve been plopped down, there is a spectrum ranging between a deterministic explanation and a free will expanation.  For example, why did I move back to Estes Park after a life in Los Angeles and New York City?  Why Estes Park?  Well, my mother and I moved here after my father died because they had stored their furniture in Colorado, Daddy had loved it here, and Mama found a house for cheaper rent in Estes Park than she could in all the front range towns (then, they’re small cities now).  How to parse that decision in terms of Choice, of Chance, of Determinism?  The Universe or God providing a path?  There is no real way to know.  Mama was too much under the survival and grief gun to ponder any of that.  She just wanted a roof, a job and a safe place for herself and her (sullen and hopefully temporarily unhappy) daughter.  So by default Estes Park became home, the place I knew, the refuge when things went bad, the place to escape from when the rest of the world (any part of it) looked better than a mountain valley with few jobs and no prospects.  No matter how beautiful it was.

But it isn’t just that Estes was and is home and I’ve always been homesick for the mountains.   True, when things went bad in my life (which happened a lot, but then that happens a lot to everybody), I’d think about Estes Park as home and want to go there to lick my wounds.  When things got better (which doesn’t inevitably happen for anybody, but which does take place more often than we notice, I think), Estes Park would once again become a nice place to visit.  Then, due to a weird confluence of strange events, I got older.  And due to an even weirder confluence of even stranger events, while I didn’t get rich, or even “comfortable”, as they say, I did manage to inherit, work for and save (saving being, alas, the least of it) enough not to fret over job prospects in a small mountain town.  Because while Estes Park is a hard place to live when you have to earn a living, if you can retire there on even a semi-pittance, Estes Park is a lovely place to live, filled with beauty, friends and important things to do.  So it became a choice once more open to me both in practical and in emotional terms.

But there were other forces.  Chance?  Determinism?  I don’t know.  When I moved to New York City, that choice was mine, but it was influenced by events in my life in Los Angeles that could very well be the universe nudging me toward a specific outcome, or which could have been pure chance onto which I imposed some kind of meaning.  This, by the way is a very old human sport, engaged in because our brains are hard-wired to form patterns.  Scientists believe that this wiring came about to allow us to pick out the pretty fruit against the background of green leaves.  But now, the pattern-formation wiring in our heads also will form patterns of behavior, of activities in the world, in an attempt to find the fruit of meaning against the background of noise.  In any event, the patterns I saw I interpreted in terms of the choice I wanted to make and I moved to New York City.

New York City

New York City (Photo credit: kaysha)

And loved it.  And would be there still were it not for some new patterns forming against the noise.  Patterns of economic disaster for all, physical problems for me, and the combination of isolation and loneliness these patterns (and some iffy choices on my part) created.  (Friends in Manhattan moved to Jersey, I stopped working because of my health, my health kept me at home in my Bronx coop which was very far from anywhere I wanted to be, etc., etc., etc.)  And I gradually came to the realization that I could no longer be there in my coop in the Bronx.  Since Manhattan was financially out of the question, where was I to be?  And was it simply my choice to stick a pin in a map?  Or was there a pattern?

Chance?  Determinism?  Choice?

Looking back makes it a lot easier to see the combinations.  While we’re in a situation, it is very hard to distinguish what parts of the decisions we make are free choice, reaction to random chance, or possibly the influence and caring of a superior entity.  Do I see the pretty fruit because it just happens to be there?  Or do the patterns in the foliage lead me to it?  Or whether it is all noise and background and I’m making up the pretty fruit I was trying to find.

But I came home, using as much single-minded effort to do so that I had used to move to New York.  And while I still miss Manhattan, I am glad I did.  Here is a very good place.  Whether I’m supposed to be here because some Force in the universe wills it and I am merely a pawn being moved, or whether I’m here because I am as much a maker of my life patterns as I am the one who discerns them, or whether I’m here purely out of rational choice and completely by chance, I don’t yet know.   Perhaps it is some unique combination of them all.

Estes Park in Rocky Mountains, Colorado.

Estes Park in Rocky Mountains, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, I’m not on the downward spiral of a bad decision or a bad place where I’m hunting desperately for someone, something, more wise and powerful than I am, to tell me what to do and assure me that it will all come out all right.  On the other hand, I kind of miss those times in my life when my desire for an outcome, my determination to make something happen, would overcome all chance, all determinism in the world. All gates were open, all systems were go, all circumstances in the world seemed to coalesce, serendipitously, into a green light which would sustain me until the project was complete, or close enough to complete so that clenching my teeth and soldiering on would make it so.

Today, I’m pondering my choices and my chances.  Oddly, like the elk in the stream in Roxy’s picture.  That elk is there because the original species indigenous to Estes Park was wiped out in hunting and another species was brought down from Wyoming to repopulate the National Park.  So, to what extent can we look at this particular elk and see the determinism of the universe and of human beings to place his kind in Estes Park? To what extent does that particular elk’s individual health and luck (the chance of his life) play a part in our seeing him in that river at that time and place and date?  And to what extent is he in that river because he just thought, what the hell, it’s easier to drink the water if I’m already in it?  Determinism.  Chance.  Choice.

What brand-new combination will come to me next, as it does to that elk?  What will move me on, whether metaphorically or (less likely at this point) actually to another place, another goal, another purpose.  While I came back to this beautiful place, this genuine home, to retire, to be still, to do small things and perhaps finally do them a bit better, and I hope that continues, it seems I’m not done with dreaming or hoping, either.  Or wondering if the Author, as I mentioned above, just might have something more for me to do and in just what way that will manifest to me.  As a choice?  As a chance?  As a destiny?

Meanwhile, on this rainy Sunday, I plan to make a small destiny of looking outside at the lovely misty mountains, feel the stroke of the rain on my skin, see if the elk have (entirely their choice, I hope) left the meadow below the road to find some other place to bed down this night, and open myself to patterns, to the fruit against the leaves, the intricate winding dance of chance and choice and determinism, and see what that dance creates for me next.