Life is an adventure. Life is magical. I often find fun and intrigue in mundane things by using my creativity to imagine alternate explanations for everyday phenomena. Could what appear to be mere coincidences actually be proof of a plot to replace world leaders with alien clones? This is the most common way I come up with my science fiction stories. While there is nothing wrong with this, the real world is interesting too.
I often like to think of natural places as full of mysterious fields of energy that can be tapped into with the right knowledge to perform interesting shows. I’m not wrong! Natural places are full of gravity, magnetism, and electric gradients! Trillions of neutrinos pass through our bodies every second. Individual particles maintain spooky connections through quantum entanglement. Ripples in the electromagnetic field are all around us. Those with the right knowledge and equipment can send and receive radio waves to communicate long distances. Under the right circumstances, there can be spontaneous discharges called lightning. None of these phenomena are fully understood. Even so, does knowing how magic works make it any less magic?
I often like to think of normal rocks as having strange properties making them react with other substances in unexpected ways. Maybe they do! Chemistry is relatively well understood, but there is still room for surprises. Perhaps if mixed with just the right solution in just the right concentration at just the right temperature at just the right pressure something will happen that is not obvious.
I often like to think of the parks I explore as islands in a large sea. By using my magical powers/artifacts and standing in the right spot, I can grasp onto the mysterious currents of energy that will bring me through the air or water to the next island. This is almost what happens! I use a machine called a car to follow the roads. Some roads have higher speed limits than others, and they intersect each other in complex ways. Does being made of matter make the roads less interesting? Would my mysterious currents of energy be any less interesting if beings made of the same energy interacted with them as if they were solid? What is matter made of anyway? Does requiring stops for fuel to power my magical artifact make my car less interesting? Does the fact that the roads were built by a race of intelligent beings make them less interesting? Does the fact that off-road travel is also possible make the roads less interesting? Of course, in the real world we also have real islands and there are real ocean currents, not to mention the trade winds and the jet stream, so I don’t have to dream.
Other times I like to think of the parks I visit as whole planets. Does being small make the parks less interesting? Realistically, I don’t think I could ever stand to explore a whole planet. It would take too long before I got bored with it and wanted to move on. It would be too different from continent to continent to really get a feel for what it was like that made it different from other planets. Swamp planets and desert planets I understand. A single planet with deserts, swamps, jungles, tundra, oceans, plains, mountains, farms, and cities is just too much! It would take a lifetime to explore it! In order to hold knowledge in our finite minds, understand it, and enjoy it, it must be simplified by cleaning up the details that don’t fit our narrative. This is why I break the Earth down into manageable parks (and other places) with nothing in between as if they were planets separated by empty space.
I often like to think of trails as following mysterious flows of energy that prevent plant growth, but this is not too far from the truth either. I know that they are maintained by the actions of humans (and sometimes other animals), but does understanding how the phenomenon works make it any less interesting? Why were those paths chosen to begin with, anyway? Human psychology is still very mysterious.
What really causes fairy rings? No, they aren’t gateways to other worlds, but the world inside is different than the world outside. The world inside is dominated by a mysterious force called fungi, and nobody really knows how living cells function.
I also often like to think of animals as having a secret language of their own in which they exchange profound truths that we can’t understand. How do we know they don’t? We can never be sure of the full meaning another human brings to the same words that mean so much to us. Animal sounds could be much the same for them. Animals have senses and forms of knowledge we do not, trail scents and electrolocation being only some of the examples we are aware of. What about the examples we have yet to discover? What of the examples that animals deliberately keep secret from us? Could animals and angels be one and the same?
We already live in a fantasy world.
Fun is the most important thing in the world. It may serve no purpose, but it is the purpose that all else serves. Why work if not to take care of the essentials in order to have more time for fun? Otherwise, you are only working in order to be able to continue to work, and that doesn’t sound very fun.
Why do people stop playing as they age? Do the games of childhood really stop being fun? Are they unable to compete for time with grown-up “games,” such as drinking or sex? Is it really more fun to sit on a couch watching others on a TV screen playing a game with a bunch of rules than it is to go outside yourself and make up the rules as you go along? Balderdash! Other people only stopped playing for the same reason I did; when we got older, people started to look at us weird.
If people wanted reality, they’d just look out their windows. People read fiction to escape. They don’t want to read about a character with exactly the same type of life they have. They want to read about characters facing challenges they will likely never have the opportunity to face. They want to read about discovering new lands, escaping danger, and conquering kingdoms. Fiction should be different from common reality – and the purest form of fiction is that which takes place on worlds which have never existed and features technologies likely to forever be impossible.
There are three types of people: workers, defenders, and artists. All three are important. No society can survive for long without the whole set. Workers keep us fed and keep the lights on. Without them the defenders and artists would starve. Defenders respond to special events such as fires, broken pipes, cancer, or war. Without them, the workers and artists would be killed. Artists build and create. Without them there would be no technological progress. Without them there would be nothing to defend or to work for. Without them there would be no entertainment and nothing to make work, defense, or life worth doing. Without them there would be no purpose to life except its own continuance.
It is said that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, but they can also be the workshop of heaven. The most creative ideas often come when we aren’t trying to come up with them. The greatest insights often come from outside the field of study they apply to. Sometimes taking a break can help you get more done in the long run.
Learning is inherently fun. Every kid knows this. The young of every mammal species are driven to learn. There is no need to “make learning fun” unless it was first unnecessarily made into a chore.
If miracles are real, why don’t we see more of them? The problem is the definition of the word “miracle.” Miracles happen, but when they happen often enough for observers to discern a pattern and describe it, they are simply relabeled as science and no longer called miracles.
Is moving something without touching it a miracle? It is unless it happens all the time in a mathematically consistent way. Then it’s just called gravity.
What about moving around matter by the power of the mind? We do this all the time when we lift a finger. It has been relabeled neurophysiology.
What about mixing air, dirt, and water together into a living figure that dances and sings? That’s called biology. Plants combine air, dirt, and water all the time to build themselves up and are in turn eaten and absorbed by dancers and singers.
What about using positive visualization or prayer to heal the body? It is unless it happens often enough to be measured. Then it’s called a placebo effect.
What about creating something from nothing? Can science explain that? At the subatomic scale, particles pop in and out of existence all the time according to certain statistical laws. These “virtual particles” are how forces are thought to be mediated. Negative mass-energy is also possible when there are attractive forces. For example, a hydrogen atom has slightly less mass-energy than the sum of the electron and proton that make it up because of the electromagnetic force holding them together. In cases where negative mass-energy exactly balances positive to add up to zero, there is no limit on the positive mass-energy that can spontaneously exist. Mass is equivalent to energy through the relationship E=mc^2 and so it is possible for any amount of matter to pop out of nothing so long as the attractive forces holding it together add up to an equal amount. According to some estimates, the amount of mass in the observable universe is equal to the amount of negative energy in gravity it has, meaning that the entire universe might have zero net mass. In other words, the entire universe could have literally popped out of nothing without violating physics, all explained without resorting to intervention by supernatural entities.
The standard model of particle physics is incomplete because it predicts the mass of each fundamental particle and the sum of the quantum vacuum energy fields between them to be infinite. This defies observation. Some have suggested that the universe we see is only a tiny fraction of an infinitely dense sea of reality. In one sense, we no longer need God to explain physics, but what if the infinite quantum vacuum energy is God? Who is to say it isn’t? Something of that complexity would certainly be capable of thought – and probably many other activities far beyond our comprehension. There is no way to predict with any certainty what the nature of an infinitely complex energy field would be. It would mediate all forces and sustain the physical laws through continual intervention (Colossians 1:17, Acts 17:24-29). From this infinite reservoir energy could be added to and taken from the universe we see. Since known physics derives from this deeper physics, occasional violations of what we think of as normal physics could occur and these would be called miracles. It would also explain the evidence of intelligent design we see in creation.
In conclusion, science has already found proof of miracles and may even have found God, but it knows them all by other names. The conflict between science and spirituality is one of semantics.
Sometimes when we slow down and let chores slide life sends us flowers. Busyness is the enemy of creativity.
Sometimes I feel like there is nowhere left on Earth to discover. The days of Columbus and Magellan are over. Satellites photograph every square meter. The ocean floor might not be fully mapped, but from what is already known it is not likely to have much that is exceptionally interesting. It is also too hostile an environment for me to really enjoy myself there. This is when I remind myself that:
• It is all still new to me.
• Even though the place may be known, it is a new day; it has never been explored this far in the future before.
It also bothers me that so many areas are restricted – whether by government or by private entities. I figure everyone is entitled keep me from their backyard, but when hundreds of acres of wilderness are marked with no-trespassing signs, there is a severe problem. What purpose do I have on this Earth if not to explore? How can I explore when so much land was stolen away from me before I was even born?
Some areas are closed for ecological reasons, but they are only closed to humans – not other animals. This is discrimination! Some areas are open to the public but only for a fee. You have to pay to camp, dock, or even park your car! More and more humans are dumped into smaller and smaller spaces together but sometimes I just need to get away from people to relax and recharge. State parks are great places, but they often have rules against firearms, hunting, collecting, campfires, walking off trail, and alcohol. I wish I didn’t have to deal with people and their rules. Columbus and Magellan just went where they pleased. This is when I remind myself that:
• They still had to deal with the occasional tribe of cannibals.
A walk through the woods is never just a walk through the woods unless you let it be that way. How can you find interesting things? Here are some tips:
• Look in places others don’t. Turn over stones. Turn over leaves. Climb trees. Look up. Leave the trail. Zoom in and see the tiny world of insects, myriapods, and arachnids under your feet.
• Hold still and be quiet. The deer and birds may come to you.
• Be aware of differences. Is the sand a different color than further up the trail? Did you hear this many birds a few minutes ago? What is that smell?
• Look far. Don’t watch your feet; look up the trail to see what moves the moment you step into its view.
• Realize that everything is interesting. Everything is unique. Everything is connected. Even the most boring object in the world is governed by the same chemical, physical, and spiritual laws that have given us the fascinating universe in which we live.
Adventure can be found anywhere at any time. You do not have to go far looking for it. You do not have to be lucky enough for it to happen to you. You simply have to recognize that you are already surrounded by adventure. Even in your neighborhood, there are some places you have never gone. I used to take long walks from my house and cut behind businesses and walk along the railroad tracks. I found snakes, deer, turtles, and found the largest cache of blackberries I had ever seen in my life (and still to this day). This was where I saw for the first time a dragonfly catch a meal in flight.
Even at work or around the home there are situations that have never happened before. There are little mysteries and challenges to be overcome. These can be adventures too. Not everyone is capable of this mindset. Some are depressed and are physically incapable of adventure even when it is pointed out to them. I’ve been there and I know there is nothing to say to make you feel better. Just know that it doesn’t last. Others simply lack the skills because no one has shown them where and how to look. That is what I hope to do on this blog: prove by example that adventure can be found anywhere and you don’t have to go far from home to find it. It just takes a little practice.
Here are some tips:
• See things with humor. Instead of discounting absurd interpretations, embrace them. What did you think that shadow was at first? Turn your misfortune into a funny story. If a place is boring, describe your boredom in such superlative terms that you start laughing.
• Make stories out of what you see. Ask yourself “what if?” Could those holes have been made by gnomes? Whenever you get inspiration for a story, look around for more in the same vein.
• Look with fresh eyes and other senses. Ask yourself what you would see if you were unfamiliar with what you were looking at. How would a young child react? A foreigner? An alien from another planet? How would you interpret your experience if you were born deaf or blind?
• Step back and see the larger context. How did the things get here? What is the history? Know you are going to write about it later and start thinking then of all the fancy words you will use to describe it. Plan on bragging about your harrowing tale. When I write about a place or event it is for me like experiencing it all over again. Because writing can really only capture the highlights of what may have taken hours in real life, it always reads better than I remember feeling at the time – but by thinking of what I will write later while I am still there, I have learned to feel this same effect in the moment.
• Whatever is of good report, meditate on these things. Focus on the good. Do not ignore the bad, but look for the good inside of it. Ask yourself what benefit can be gained from your displeasure. Often the greatest good is found inside the greatest bad.
• If possible, go with someone else who can also see adventure. You will each notice things that the other misses, and you will be able to feed on each other’s insights. Friends make a huge difference.
What is the next adventure you will go on?
This could just as easily be hanging in a gallery as lying by your feet. In any case, don't step in it.
Don't be bored. Look around. Ask yourself some questions. What do things look like? No, what do they REALLY look like?
I've always wondered where animals throw their garbage. Now I know.
At least it's not on the floor...
There's nothing wrong with tradition, but we wouldn't be where we are today without creativity. Living the way out life means exploration and experimentation. Variety is the spice of life.
Life is bearable when you can laugh at it. See the jokes all around you. Put things in a new context. Caterpillars dress like clowns, geese laugh at snowfall, reptiles are nudists.