The universe, the Cold War, and a balance for enjoyment

4/9/17

“The cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” – Sagan

The universe is so beautiful that it’s a bit hard to process the fact we ourselves are part of it—that we are definitely parts of the universe understanding itself.

That fills me with a great obligation… I was given the opportunity to experience life, and I should take advantage of this life to understand myself—the cosmos, of which I am a part, of which everything in Creation is a part—not just this human body but the large Creation to which I belong.

It’s easy to forget this when I look around my desk and am reminded of my humanity, of which I’ve always had a deep sense. We all feel we’re human. Not star stuff. And yet we are a part of the universe, formed from atoms that never arranged themselves in this way to acquire this consciousness before. And if there is no other life, then we are the only parts of the universe which have it—the only parts that can understand the universe’s origin.

When I die, whether there is or isn’t an afterlife, my atoms won’t just be destroyed. They’ll continue to cycle through the universe, and though I may not gain consciousness again, I’ll still be there in a sense. And that is somewhat comforting. It’s a form of being eternal.

4/10/17

For my history class, I’ve been learning about the Cold War. I find it fascinating, probably because of history’s great relevance—especially the more-recent events. After WW2, Germany was divided into zones controlled by the Soviet Union, the U.S., Britain, and France. Western Europe was in need of repair, and Eastern Europe was controlled by the Soviets.

The Long Telegram was sent by George Kennan (of the American Embassy in Moscow) in response to U.S. inquiries about Soviet goals. Kennan’s telegram explained his opinion of the reasons behind the Soviets’ uncooperative behavior. The telegram was 5,540 words long. Kennan introduced the idea of containment, thinking that another war should not be started, and that, rather, if Soviet power was contained, the Union would fall apart. (The idea was to contain communism.) This telegram circulated through Truman’s administration and eventually containment became a policy with the goal of “keeping communism within its present territory through the use of diplomatic, economic, and military actions” (784).

Thought after WW2 the Soviets should have removed their troops from northern Iran, they remained, and Stalin demanded access to Iran’s oil resources. With Soviet help, Communists in the area set up a separate government. The U.S. responded by sending the battleship USS Missouri, and a clear message that the Soviets should withdraw. They did, but then turned to Turkey, seeking control of the Dardanelles. In response, President Truman sent the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the meantime, Britain supported the Greek government against a war launched by Communists within the country. Britain’s economy, weakened by WW2, caused it to eventually have to pull it, unable to afford to help further. Later that year (1947), Truman went before Congress asking for $400 million to fight communism in Greece and Turkey. His speech introduced the Truman Doctrine, whose aim was to give aid to free people who were struggling against attempts at subjugation. The Greek government was stabilized, and the U.S. became more involved in resisting communism, as a result.

The Marshall Plan was proposed by George Marshall, Secretary of State at the time. The idea was to offer economic aid to nations struggling to recover from the war, to build them up economically. The Soviet Union did not accept this aid. Its efforts served to, among other things, make communism seem less appealing to recovering nations and thus combat it, and open up new markets for trade in Western Europe.

4/11/17

Sagan has inspired me to view things with greater awe and appreciation. When I started my chemistry book—indeed, all my classes—I was willing to learn, though not so much for the beauty I’d find and the joy that learning would bring as for preparation; as for control. The more I knew, the more I’d control.

I just restarted my entire chemistry book with no regrets. I was like 400 pages in. I don’t mind redoing it all. I want a fresh start. I may not get very far—school is almost out and I’ll need to return the book soon. But I want to try again, this time determined to enjoy the subject—not to learn only.

“It’s all really there. But you have to stop and think about it to really get the pleasure.” – Richard Feynman

4/12/17

I’m about dead (this does not mean what you think). I’m trying to figure out life, like everyone else, I guess. Trying to understand what my priorities are, what I want this life to be about. I know I need human interaction because without that important element, life loses meaning, however sad that is—otherwise beautiful ideas lose their beauty.

But people interaction is not enough. I’m trying to figure out the correct balance to keep my mood more than positive. I don’t want to learn to learn, or to have more control and power. I don’t want to do it for the reasons of the past which now seem foolish. I want to do it to feel the way Carl Sagan did—to be in love, to find the beauty. I have my mindset: the growth mindset, belief in my abilities, belief that I must keep going, belief I can learn anything. I understand time is limited, I am being more cooperative and am reaching out to people, and Sagan inspired me to enjoy everything—something which I am capable of doing. When I decide to enjoy everything, I do. It’s that simple. This morning I woke up at 5:55 whereas I usually wake at 6:30, and hopped (reality: shuffled, after 10 minutes of extra sleep) out of bed to read a post written by another blogger. I was interested in the science of the post, but it wasn’t so much interest in the topic as it was in the sense I expected it to make and the fact I would be directly exposed to somebody else caring about this stuff, which I hoped would add the human element and make me care more deeply.

I’m not done with the post yet. (It’s currently 3:49 PM, but I had school.) It’s extremely exciting. I was thinking about what was different, because obviously when you feel good once you want that to happen again. The only things that were different were the fact I was receiving human contact, and my goal in reading the post. Human contact alone does not make ideas exciting. (See? It’s tricky to balance it.) So I think it was a combination of the human contact and my goal. My goal was to enjoy. Not to read fast, or remember really well, or take great notes, or simply learn…

It was something that it never really was before. I’ve been focusing on my enjoyment of interesting subjects recently—before that, that was never my focus. It should have been, but it took back seat, and then it got forgotten. Enjoyment got forgotten. Sagan reminded me of that. And it’s so precious. There’s nothing so beautiful to me as seeing him find something else beautiful.

“The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.” – Sagan

When he called something ‘beautiful,’ it was deeply moving. I do find things beautiful sometimes—ideas—but it seems that lately that word hasn’t been used too much by me, and I lost sight of that. He made me want to change. And it’s my choice. I am no victim to anything—I refuse to be. I can’t expect the world to be something different than it is, all by itself. I must take action to enjoy it and appreciate it more. That’s what I am determined to do now.

And when I read that post, about light, I picked up on the sense that I always pick up on—but I relished it. It was wondrous and blissful and moving. I carried the thought further: I thought, how do we perceive color, how do electromagnetic waves (light waves) of certain wavelengths enter our eyes to be processed as certain colors? As I wondered at how that could be, I knew that there was some deeply complex explanation, and I felt I was at the edge, ready for emotion to overwhelm me. because everything is incredibly complex. Everywhere, there is something extraordinary to be found, and I marveled at the fact that sometimes, in few moments, I think life is boring. I was like: how it could be boring!

I remember the intense emotional waves that I experience when things make sense. I love systems. I love explaining how things work together to form a system. I think that may be the key to my door, and using that key will allow me to see beauty everywhere. Not forgetting the human contact, trying to enjoy everything, but especially finding the sense. I love explaining things that work together like a system—narrative, not so much, which may explain why I haven’t felt like writing much in the past few days.

Those emotional waves are extremely high. You feel utter bliss and euphoria, as far as I’ve ever known it. You feel great excitement, and wholly alive. You feel a dying need to share it, and you feel you’re going to explode. At least I do when I get that way, which is why I started today’s writing with the words: “I’m about dead,” because sometimes the euphoria is so intense you can’t even. And those are just about the only words I know to describe that feeling of being trapped, of having too much energy and not knowing how to release it. You feel overwhelmed, and it can be very stressful if you don’t release it. The feeling is utterly fantastic—but you want to tell everybody. Remember? When you’re in love you want to tell the world?

I don’t feel that way right now. But just remembering that was overwhelming to the point I felt I had to come here and write. Writing for me allows me to release my emotions, and I hope to channel such emotions into valuable information I can share with others so that I may spread such knowledge. Because I want others to feel that way, too. I also wrote this to a have a record, so that if I get kind of lost and wonder how I ever got close to achieving a balance, I can read this and straighten things out. I’m searching for a method that works.

“The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths, of exquisite interrelationships, of the awesome machinery of nature.”

‘Elegant’ is one word that came to mind as I read the post, and I was reminded of his words.

If you stuck with me, thank you.

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