Never Stop Learning…More thoughts about the Continuum…

Lately I find myself spending more and more time reading. I have always loved to read and always made sure to make the time to read. Lots of fiction. Lots of non-fiction.

These days I have been gravitating to books that would be broadly described as historical and biographical. What I mean by broadly is the book might be of a specific historical period or person, but it brings some perspective to the times we are living today. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “No Ordinary Time” is a good example. Taylor Branches “The Parting of the Waters…America in the King Years 1954-63” is in the queue on my desk along with several other books. However, Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens” or Edward O. Wilson’s “The Meaning of Human Existence” and “On Human Nature” take a much broader and longer historical perspective of the evolutionary twists and turns and accidents--lots of accidents--over a continuum measured in billions of years that have brought us to where we are today. 

There a several authors I keep gravitating to. I have mentioned Edward O. Wilson. and Doris Kearns Goodwin is one. Doris is more of a story teller than a typical presidential historian in the classic sense. Read “Lincoln, Team of Rivals” or “The Bully Pulpit” and “No Ordinary Time” and you’ll see what I mean. Her “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream” is in the queue. David McCullough is another great story teller who has a growing place on my book shelf. 

 As I mentioned, I think what I’m reading more and more of is an attempt to put life today into some historical perspective; in the near term and along the long-term Continuum. 

 Wrapped up in the notion of the Continuum is the stage on which it unfolds…our planet Earth. Scientists who happen to be great authors take up a lot of my time. Sylvia A. Earle has spent her life trying to help us understand our history and our fate are tied to the oceans. Tim Flannery is another. Then there is Barry Lopez. Part science, mostly transcendental, Barry’s “About this life” and “Artic Dreams” along with “Crossing Open Ground” are my favorites. One of my favorite photographers and writers fits in here. Guy Tal’s writing and images help me pause and think about my art and, more importantly, my life. “More Than a Rock” is collection of Guy’s many essays. Besides his book, many of his thoughts come through his blog, newsletter and photographic magazine articles. 

 I just read his essay “What is Enough.” In other words, money doesn’t buy happiness. In it he said “We have an innate fear of the unknown, but within the unknown lies the one thing we do know—we know that at some point we will cease to exist…we do not know when or how that will come to be, but we know without a doubt it will.” 

 My first thought was, thanks, but I’m not sure I needed to be reminded I have more days behind me than ahead of me. But as I thought about it and continued to read I realized he’s trying to get me to pause and consider what it is we should find value in if we are to have a fulfilled life. He went on to say “This is the point of transcendence—when any increase in the value of life is only possible with the aid of immaterial things—experiences, emotions, knowledge, social interactions and so on.” I would add family. 

 The Continuum may have started with the Big Bang. And the Continuum is without end. Not so for us, our planet, our star, our galaxy. It may all be just a blink in time. But, that’s Guys point. Where, how and with whom you share that blink in time is where you will find real value and happiness in the life you have lived. 

 Yep. Never stop learning!