Life

I’ve been trying to put my thoughts on “life” into an organized form. Not making much progress so … it’s time to start writing and organize from there.

It’s living life I’m thinking about. I’m not a biologist and I have no idea what defines life but that has zero relevance. And then there’s the definition of intelligent life. Again, zero relevance to what I’m trying to say.

Many people, intelligent people, think the probability of life, and even intelligent life, everywhere in the universe is certain. I’m not one of those people. Mostly I doubt intelligent life is everywhere. But that’s not what I’m writing about.

I’m thinking about probabilities. One very specific probability. The probability that I have this life.

How to calculate the probability that I’m me? How many life entities could I have been? Do I just add up humans? I’d still be a human so irrelevant. Throw in tigers, skunks, fleas, and all the rest? If so then the probability that I’m human is extremely close to zero. What is the probability I’m even intelligent life? Even closer to zero. And do I factor in plants? Could I have been a plant? There are trillions of living things I could have been.

So if you believe all the Sagan types that say life is everywhere then the probability I’m human is one in trillions and trillions. I’ve won the biggest sweepstakes in the universe. I could have been a fly and gotten swatted.

What to make of this? I believe that when I die, that’s it. Gone. So, what to make of this? I have absolutely no idea.

Of course, there’s no philosophy that offers an explanation. This doesn’t seem to be an idea worthy of the philosophers.

Someone must have an idea. Something is going on and no one even has a scientific type explanation. Of course, religious types think only humans matter … bullshit. I doubt they could understand my question.

The statistics are overwhelming, I don’t exist.

Volunteer Work

I was recently talking to someone about how a few people do most of the work at events involving their children. She should know. I’ve seen it for almost 40 years. My advice was to just walk away. Old saying “no good deed goes unpunished”. For a couple of days, I thought about what I had said and decided it was time for me to walk away. If something is no longer fun it’s time to quit. I’ve given up on different things several times. This is almost certainly the last.

Pain

I have chronic pain. It affects everything I do. Here is a letter you should read. I’m not the only person you know who has pain …

Open letter from a person with chronic pain

Having chronic pain means many things change, and a lot of the changes are invisible.

Unlike having cancer or being hurt in an accident, most people do not understand chronic pain and its effects, and of those that think they know, many are actually misinformed. In the spirit of informing those who wish to understand: These are the things that I would like you to understand about me before you judge me.

Please understand that being sick doesn’t mean I’m not still a human being. I have to spend most of my day in considerable pain and exhaustion, and if you
visit, sometimes I probably don’t seem like much fun to be with, but I’m still me, stuck inside this body. I still worry about work, my family, my friends, and
most of the time, I’d still like to hear you talk about yours, too.

Please understand the difference between “happy” and “healthy.” When you’ve got the flu you probably feel miserable with it, but I’ve been sick for years. I
can’t be miserable all the time. In fact, I work hard at not being miserable. So, if you’re talking to me and I sound happy, it means I’m happy. That’s all. It
doesn’t mean that I’m not in a lot of pain, or not extremely tired, or that I’m getting better, or any of those things. Please don’t say, “Oh, you’re sounding
better!” or “But you look so healthy!” I am merely coping. I am sounding happy and trying to look normal. If you want to comment on that, you’re welcome
to.

Please understand that being able to stand up for 10 minutes doesn’t necessarily mean that I can stand up for 20 minutes, or an hour. Just because I
managed to stand up for 30 minutes yesterday doesn’t mean that I can do the same today. With a lot of diseases, you’re either paralyzed, or you can’t move.
With this one, it gets more confusing every day. It can be like a yo-yo. I never know from day to day how I am going to feel when I wake up. In most cases, I
never know from minute to minute. That is one of the hardest and most frustrating components of chronic pain.

Please repeat the above paragraph substituting “sitting,” “walking,” “thinking,” “concentrating,” “being sociable,” and so on; it applies to everything. That’s what chronic pain does to you.

Please understand that chronic pain is variable. It’s quite possible (and for many, it’s common) that one day I am able to walk to the park and back, while the next day I’ll have trouble getting to the next room. Please don’t attack me when I’m ill by saying, “But you did it before!” or “Oh, come on, I know you can do this!” If you want me to do something, then ask if I can. In a similar vein, I may need to cancel a previous commitment at the last minute. If this happens,
please do not take it personally. If you are able to, please try to always remember how very lucky you are, to be physically able to do all of the things that you can do.

Please understand that “getting out and doing things” does not make me feel better, and can often make me seriously worse. You don’t know what I go
through or how I suffer in my own private time. Telling me that I need to exercise or do some things to “get my mind off of it” may frustrate me to tears, and is not correct. If I was capable of doing some things any or all of the time, don’t you know that I would? I am working with my doctors and I am doing what I am supposed to do. Another statement that hurts is, “You just need to push yourself more, try harder.” Obviously, chronic pain can affect the whole body, or be localized to specific areas. Sometimes participating in a single activity for a short or a long period of time can cause more damage and physical pain than you could ever imagine. Not to mention the recovery time, which can be intense. You can’t always read it on my face or in my body language. Also, chronic pain may cause secondary depression (wouldn’t you get depressed and down if you were hurting constantly for months or years?), but it is not created by depression.

Please understand that if I say I have to sit down, lie down, stay in bed, or take these pills now, that probably means that I do have to do it right now, it can’t
be put off or forgotten just because I’m somewhere, or I’m right in the middle of doing something. Chronic pain does not forgive, nor does it wait for anyone.

If you want to suggest a cure to me, please don’t. It’s not because I don’t appreciate the thought, and it’s not because I don’t want to get well. Lord knows
that isn’t true. In all likelihood, if you’ve heard of it or tried it, so have I. In some cases, I have been made sicker, not better. This can involve side effects or
allergic reactions, as is the case with herbal remedies. It also includes failure, which in and of itself can make me feel even lower. If there were something that
cured or even helped people with my form of chronic pain, then we’d know about it. There is worldwide networking (both on and off the Internet) between
people with chronic pain. If something worked, we would KNOW. It’s definitely not for lack of trying. If, after reading this, you still feel the need to suggest a
cure, then so be it. I may take what you said and discuss it with my doctor.

If I seem touchy, it’s probably because I am. It’s not how I try to be. As a matter of fact, I try very hard to be normal. I hope you will try to understand. I have
been, and am still, going through a lot. Chronic pain is hard for you to understand unless you have had it. It wreaks havoc on the body and the mind. It is exhausting and exasperating. Almost all the time, I know that I am doing my best to cope with this, and live my life to the best of my ability. I ask you to bear
with me and accept me as I am. I know that you cannot literally understand my situation unless you have been in my shoes, but as much as possible, I am
asking you to try to be understanding in general.

In many ways, I depend on you, people who are not sick. I need you to visit me when I am too sick to go out. Sometimes I need you to help me with the shopping, the cooking, or the cleaning. I may need you to take me to the doctor or to the store. You are my link to the “normalcy” of life. You can help me to keep in touch with the parts of life that I miss and fully intend to undertake again, just as soon as I am able.

I know that I asked a lot from you, and I do thank you for listening. It really does mean a lot.

Note on the author: This letter was originally written by Ricky Buchanan. The letter was first written to let people know what it is like to have chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia and has been adapted for other chronic pain disorders.

Reading

Someone asked me what I was reading … so …

A World Without Time (reread. I reread this every once in a while)

A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel and Einstein Kindle Edition. It is a widely known but little considered fact that Albert Einstein and Kurt Godel were best friends for the last decade and a half of Einstein’s life. The two walked home together from Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study every day; they shared ideas about physics, philosophy, politics, and the lost world of German science in which they had grown up. By 1949, Godel had produced a remarkable proof: In any universe described by the Theory of Relativity, time cannot exist . Einstein endorsed this result-reluctantly, since it decisively overthrew the classical world-view to which he was committed. But he could find no way to refute it, and in the half-century since then, neither has anyone else. Even more remarkable than this stunning discovery, however, was what happened afterward: nothing. Cosmologists and philosophers alike have proceeded with their work as if Godel’s proof never existed -one of the greatest scandals of modern intellectual history. A World Without Time is a sweeping, ambitious book, and yet poignant and intimate. It tells the story of two magnificent minds put on the shelf by the scientific fashions of their day, and attempts to rescue from undeserved obscurity the brilliant work they did together.


The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Ancient Egypt

An Illustrated Reference to the myths, religions, pyramids, and temples of the land of the pharaohs.


“What Do You Care What Other People Think?”

“What Do You Care What Other People Think?”: Further Adventures of a Curious Character is a biographical book written by Ralph Leighton with the authorization of Richard Feynman.


Anna – The Biography of Anna Wintour

Dame Anna Wintour DBE is a British-American journalist based in New York City who has served as editor-in-Chief of Vogue since 1988 and Global Chief Content Officer for Condé Nast since 2020; she is also the artistic director of Condé Nast and the Global Editorial Director of Vogue.

The Other Stuff

Misophonia is a condition in which individuals experience intense anger and disgust when they are confronted with sounds made by other human beings. In particular, sounds like chewing, lip-smacking, or breathing may cause intense anger and physical arousal.

If you are like the estimated 1—3% of the population with aphantasia, you may be unable to visualize any type of image in your head. These individuals have no “mind’s eye,” or their imagination is essentially blind. This ability to visualize events and images plays an important part in people’s lives.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.