Saturday, February 4, 2012

Great words to think about

The writer Adam Frank posted this essay last week - it relates to why/how he (and I relate to this) uses science as the lens in which to view life. Or is that science is what shapes how we view life?

"In response I wanted to reflect on what science brings to the table. Some of what I have to say relates to the practice of science. I also think it's important to consider what science asks of us, and what it gives back as an approach to life.

Science certainly provides a powerful sense of meaning as an activity. Will my scientific papers be read 100 years from now? I hope so, but doubt it (sigh). Either way, the process of trying to honestly enter into a dialogue with the world establishes a context for my own life that sometimes allows me to rise above the petty day-to-day squabbles of broken washing machines and general knuckle-headedness. By entering into that dialogue with great effort and earnestness, the world ceases to be something merely "at-hand," something merely there for distraction or entertainment.

Instead, it's fully alive and fully present. The ever-opening sky, the wheeling stars and even the nightly stream of crows I watch heading to their evening roosts all become a poignant mysteries that speak of greater powers than I will ever fully understand. They surround me, whispering that there is more, so much more, to the world than my small concerns. Practicing science keeps my feet on the ground and my ear to the wind. It keeps me alert so that I might still hear that quiet call.
You don't have to be a practicing scientist to know any of that. You don't have to write papers to carry out your own research, your own fervent investigation into the texture of your own being.
The questions are always there.

They are waiting for you everyday when you open your eyes to yet another strange day in this strange world. The practice of science is just a codification of something that has always been possible for human beings. With integrity and honesty in our own investigations of what it means to be alive for these briefest of moments, we can all enrich our work, be it nursing, building, teaching or cooking.

Science always asks for excellence. In reality, life always asks for excellence, too. It asks us to give our best, to be attentive, to awake to the everyday miracle that is every day.
Nothing is more full of meaning and nothing holds out a greater hope for us all. As individuals in a culture we are forever re-inventing, this collaboration of investigation with the universe is the very essence of a meaningful life."

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