Monday, February 11, 2008

How Big Is Your World?

(Stray thoughts corralled during unguarded moments of an introspective round-up.)

A few days ago for some inexplicable reason at about 8:30PM I was all about ready to drop to bed unable to keep droopy eyes opened in spite of the colorful visual perks on TV and the Internet. So off to soft warm comfort I plopped before 9PM, undoubtedly unusually early for me. Before long I was roaming dreamland.

But by 1AM I suddenly nudged and sleep was interrupted, with eyes and mind unerringly flashed back to reality. And the lingering warmth of the prior sunny day was no help in my half-hearted attempt at getting back to sleep. Thus unleashed, the unrestrained mind started racing through whatever figment of any idea floated through.

Suddenly the question. How big is your world? I mean that physical world that you can presently perceive, participate in, personally interact with, and in so doing somehow influence. And on the other hand, I do not mean the world that one has access to either virtually, remotely, vicariously, or from afar. The world that opens up for you when your imagination takes over, or when you turn your TV on, or when you read books, or when one plays video games, etc.

I emphatically refer to the concrete world of reality that we daily have to either enjoy through or labor under, a world we cannot hurry or slow down, a world we may exert some influences on but not really much.

I immediately thought about the suddenly ubiquitous politicians and their surrogates, this being the midst of the political season, and whose political ambitions and boundless rhetoric media have unilaterally co-opted as its addictive business to repeatedly delve into and broadcast wide to all and sundry.

By purpose and choice, the politician’s world has to be big and wide. They have to know and interact with lots and lots of people because of the very nature of their profession. They have to know most of the bureaucratic people in government, the motivated people in their frenetic campaigns, the harried people in business or those stodgy people oozing with money, and in most abundant numbers, the faceless and numberless masses falling under the term, electorate. It goes without saying that they have decided to allocate for themselves the biggest world they can have, acquire, keep, and influence.

And undoubtedly, there are many other equally motivated people who find themselves in likely situations. The smart business entrepreneurs would have the same goals, but for reasons of their own, essentially so their businesses would have extensive exposure and clientele, and the bigger the better. Churchmen and purveyors of religion also have the same though spiritual designs, to reach as many potential devotees as possible.

But for the multitudes of us, we would rather keep our worlds easily manageable, comfortably small, and maybe uncluttered and easy to gather and discern. All in the cozy and safe embrace of the mantle of personal privacy and privacy rights where many of us find shelter and have ordained to keep our domicile. Thus, we are easily incensed when we discover any attempt whether by government or through any private initiative to invade or curtail that aura of privacy, and thus attempt to make our worlds larger. We will fight ferociously to keep our privacy cove clandestinely isolated and intact and its well-guarded boundaries and parameters sacrosanct. We do not welcome intrusions.

To arrive at some proof or validation, I did start to take stock of my own personal situation to determine what size my world was.

The idling mind then ambled to its next likely chore, trying to determine for me how big or small my world was, especially in these new environs where we have purposely decided as migrants to install ourselves in. We did choose this place to be near our immediate family members, our married kids and their families. A married daughter and her family are only 5 minutes drive away in the same city. But aside from them, the nearest relatives are at least 50 miles away in different directions and contacts are essentially through the phone. We do attend church services, but beyond communal prayer and worship, we have not really had deep social interactions in the different groups available in the parish. And we do shop regularly in some retail stores for our daily needs, but nothing much beyond just having nodding acquaintances with a few sales people. Even within the tight housing development we are in, we cannot in honesty really say that we have acquired new friends, and mind you it is not due to a simple lack of trying. And mark another nil in the work environment, since I have not really sought any local employment, while the wife preoccupies her time taking care of a family member a couple of miles away. Any other sectors missed?

All things considered, it is quite a narrow miniscule world I inhabit, if I may say so. Although being first generation immigrants (regardless of the considerable length of stay here), we still regularly interact with the old world we left behind in the old homeland, through regular protracted visits.

Inversely, we inhabit other worlds which in some ways may not easily lend themselves to size measurements. The daily and at times prolonged incursions in the unfathomable depths of the Internet allow the subject not only access but real-time interaction with a vast uncharted world of differing interests and subjects, encompassing whatever drives one’s fancies and curiosities. The regular sessions in front of TV serve up a plate-full of worlds just as varied and exotic, and all this in high definition. Newspapers, books, magazines, even those colorful business ad flyers collectively derided as spam, bring one to worlds that could stagger anyone’s vivid imagination in terms of its diversity and volumes of subjects.

We do include the mystical and vertically-oriented world we visit during prayers and worship, during solemn times of spiritual contemplation and introspection, where we leave the world of reality and ascend to one more ephemeral and ennobling.

And lastly and almost needless to state, I do have bouts with my fertile imagination as venue, seeing myself soaring through the air above some remote verdant canyons in the province of Bukidnon, expertly maneuvering and guiding my trusty gyrocopter through cascading treetops and adroitly outflanking shifty winds, etc. A world suspended in eager anticipation of the day when my real-life preparations for such activities will have been undertaken and accomplished.

What exactly is the relationship between these twin-category worlds, the real and the virtual? Do they grow or constrict in inverse proportion to each other? Or do they both grow side by side, complementing and supporting each other?

This might be the next interesting avenue to explore come next time when the same fertile mind is given free rein anew during moments of quiet and idle introspection.

Personally then the early but interrupted sleep was parlayed into a meaningful purpose for me. Gave for me new meaning to the cliché, sleeping on one’s problems.

Graphics:
1. Sculpture made by G. Ruggeri, from Tuscany, Italy. 14" statue of Blessed Virgin with infant Jesus. Made of bonded Carrara Marble and Alabaster, and finished by hand with remarkable detail, and hand painted.
2&3. Clarinet set, dismantled and in case.

6 comments:

  1. Amadeo,
    insightful and poignant.

    the real and virtual world complement each other. we inhabit both worlds yet avoid getting stuck in one. imagine a submission to either the real and the virtual only.

    beatburn

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  2. Hi, beatburn:

    Finding the real-life world very confusing and disturbing, many may simply opt to stay away from it and retreat to the other worlds they inhabit. As noted, most of us are anyway predisposed to keep as small a footprint as we possibly could in the real world where we live daily. Thus, shying away from it completely may be an easy escape.

    A scenario is then made possible where when we find the real world unpalatable and disgusting to our taste, we start constricting it and expanding our presence in the other worlds.

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  3. The way I cope with the unpleasant conditions of my real world is by nurturing images in mind of the ideal alternative conditions that I'd like to experience. And somehow, through such practice, it makes the real world a lot more tolerable. I'd like to think that even though I am powerless to change things around me, I, at least, have the power to change the way I think about them.

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  4. Eric, in effect resulting in a temporary escape to another world.

    Do you then find the two worlds growing in parallel and at even pace? Or doesn't this action diminish one in creating the other one, time and space being a zero-sum proposition?

    Admittedly, I too revert to such a practice. One could say that I have a very fertile imagination.

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  5. This post reminds me of the questions and speculations of structure of our physical world scientists have been grappling to understand for centuries.

    The "many worlds universe" theory which came from quantum physics postulates that our world might be part of a much larger set of many universes. In other words, there might be several versions of me in the universe that are continuing the various possibilities of events.

    Sounds really crazy but in a nutshell, the whole shebang can be written in one phrase, with the title of an article in Discover Magazine about a year and a half ago entitled - " If an Electron Can Be in Two Places at One Time, Why Can't I" ?

    When Einstein said " for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one" - does reinforce the notion that there is something more complex and exciting than the universe we see and feel.

    These are the things that I think of when I am faced with the question - how big is your world ?

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  6. bw:

    What you described is fascinating and I confess I have not run across it before this.

    There are just too mysteries in this reality that we inhabit that the possibilities are limitless.

    The other day I watched on HD TV Naked Science's feature on dark matter and it was difficult just soaking in all the postulations made.

    I did have earlier a blog entry on photons and how they approximate and partake of the nature of the Uncaused Cause.

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