Lost moments

Sometimes a (brilliant) thought comes to me and I try to write it down as quickly as humanly possible because I know full well that if I don't, it is going to pass, and it is never going to come back again. Not in this form anyway - so unless I get it written down, I've lost it, forever.

And so most of the time when I write, I'm just blabbering.

You see, I live my writing life in assertion that, if I waited for perfection I would never write a word, to use Margaret Atwood's words, and because trying is more important than perfection, I write.

And because of that, I blabber. Unless I let myself blabber, almost without restraint - and it includes this blog here - I am going to lose those few precious moments, few and far between, when what I do really matters. And if I did that then what I'd be left with is, well... mediocracy.

I'm not thoroughly and continuously brilliant - in fact, I doubt anyone is. There haven't been many things in my life that I've written really, really well - but the few that I have, I am proud of.

And because I'm familiar with what that onset of writing feels like - I can feel it approach almost the same way I can hear an earthquake approach in the mountains (it first comes as a sound and only then does the rocking start) - I have the ability to both recognize its approach and also be aware of the times I've lost it; and tonight was the night I know I've lost another one.

It is a story of sharing and of seeking balance. Two people, one laptop.

Me and The Man have been watching Intelligence² debate today, a panel session on the topic of "The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world" (Which I suggest you do, too, at least the part where Stephen Fry is talking which I've linked here, about 15 minutes long in total.)

And after that, as we often do, we discussed our thoughts until we went way beyond the initial topic and started reaching into vaccinations and mathematical functions for measuring goodness and event horizons - at which point I usually start getting really lost because as soon as it gets into quantum physics I reach into an area where I can see that there are people who understand it at least in the concept level, but I just cannot, for the life of me, really feel what the hell it is that they're talking about.

Sort of like there was this news on BBC the other day that a group of scientists had created the world's fastest (man-made) spinning object which at 600 million revolutions per minute is something I just simply cannot fathom anymore - at numbers like that we're talking about a whole lot of zeros because I simply cannot picture how fast that 600 million is exactly. How fast is something that is half a million times faster than a washing machine? Can you picture that? I can't.

But I'm getting off topic here.

As we discussed this and then reached into religion and Christianity in general I felt that familiar wave of... thought come on. I suddenly had sentences in my head with which I could accurately portray what my relation to religion is like and I was itching to get it all written down before it's gone except that, laptop was in The Man's hands for the moment.

So I had a shower, all whilst whispering those sentences to myself under my breath, to keep it going and get some of them to stick. Prepared the porridge for tomorrow. Went and hung up the washing.

And whilst I did that - hung up the washing - I suddenly realised that even if I went and asked The Man to please, please relinquish the laptop to me so I can write it all down, it was too late. I was already struggling to weave those sentences together and when that happens, it is done. I can still get the remaining bits, but I'm not going to get the whole any more, so there's going to be snippets of brilliance among the usual, average blabber.

And I stepped inside and talked to The Man, angry and anxious and resentful, and now I'm sitting here, trying to explain it away and to try and give you an insight of what it feels like, to know that a wave of that brilliance came, and then passed, and there is no recording of it because it is lost, to me, forever.

There's a talk on TED where Elizabeth Gilbert has described a similar thing. I'm sorry, I don't remember who it was any more, I haven't listened to this recording for what must be a good few months now, but she described an author who as a child growing up in rural Virginia had the same thing where inspiration approached like thunder and it was then her job to "run like hell" so she could get to the pen and pencil fast enough, and otherwise that thunder was going to roll past her and continue along the landscape, looking for another author. (I think it's about halfway through this video if you're interested in watching.)

I lost it this time, and it's a bitter feeling. An act of balance, really, of finding my way amongst other people I share this planet and my home with.

But what I would've otherwise written about was religion as a form of explaining the mysterious. To me, well... I don't do well with entropy. I know, yes, it is a natural state of the universe - NEVERTHELESS, in my head I need to have things nice and tidy. Just as I cannot write in a room that's full of mess, I also cannot relax when I'm confronted with things I don't understand.

I, too, have a form of religion which I wouldn't go into much further than to say that I, too, have something I call "God" however I do not attend any organised meetings and most definitely don't wish to bend to any dogma. I sometimes sit up on the hill, yes, and say my thanks to God, but if you asked me what that God is I wouldn't know how to answer. The closest I can get to it is if I talked about physics: atoms and energy and what I think they might be doing to each other.

But what it really is to me is a form of comfort in explaining the mysterious because if the topic goes as far as event horizon then I simply cannot feasibly picture it in my head any more so, essentially, to me God is the word for everything that's magical - so the idea I've come up with that helps me understand what particles do and what time is and where it began is what I call God. Universe is my religion, so to speak.

And in that part, I can understand why other people go to churches and worship their own gods. The way I see it - and probably snobbishly so - is that I've taken the time and the effort to come up with my own concept of god and other people who either haven't got the smarts or the time, well, they go to already established churches and find comfort in routines and tradition because that framework gives them support they need to accept the non-understandable.

I so wish I'd gotten it down when it totally made sense to me. Even now as I'm writing this I'm coming against that line of "forgottenness" where I know I covered a topic in my head and therefore I should, realistically, be able to retrieve it from my head again, but I just cannot connect to those nerves in my head where that information is stored. I feel it sitting there, like a box that hasn't got any openings, a sealed container.

It is such a fascinating topic to think about.

I identify a lot with what Stephen Fry above was saying: I have absolutely no problem with people worshipping their own gods, however they may call them, and seeking their spiritual contentment and happiness because essentially that's exactly what I'm doing here, too, seeking and learning about my happiness, but I do come up against organised religion, time and again, and I cannot understand what drives it.

A workmate of mine is a protestant. She says things along the lines of, god created the man in his image, and is comfortable with the concept of creation, and I've said to her that I have absolutely no problem with her doing her thing because she pulls it off beautifully - she is kind, compassionate, helpful, but by no means a pushover.

Where I do have a problem, though, is when it comes to same sex marriages (which, thank god!, are now legal in New Zealand) and euthanasia and other such topics because when we talk about those and I ask sincere questions trying to understand where and why she draws the line in those things being wrong, eventually it keeps coming against that "because Bible said so" or "because Jesus said so", or other stuff like that, and it's a dead end. She engages in reasonable discussions and supports proof-based ideas and does debate, willingly so - and yet somewhere in there there's an invisible line where when she doesn't have a (reasonable) answer to me any more, she says that thing about the bible, or about Jesus, and from there it's a dead end.

And I don't understand. Why not say "because I like it" or "because I don't like it" then? Why does it have to be bible this or Jesus that?

I'd like to understand it, and I don't. I like thinking about it, and talking about it with those that are willing, and not with the sole purpose of ridicule but with a sincere wanting to understand, what the hell are you guys talking about!?!

1 o'clock at night. Wow. It took me over an hour to write this stuff down.


  1. I heard it on the radio once when i was driving - a rock star but i forgot who now talked about how he too used to have those moments when he had to reach over for the pen and write whatever came to him that very moment because it might never do that again. he'd stop what he was doing and get a pen. then he got older and found himself telling the illusive genius when it showed up at the wrong time that he was busy right then and asked it to come back later. and it did )). i doubt we'll ever get to this level of relationship with our genius but it's a fun concept...

    1. Anna, it's in the same TED talk, Liz talks about it =) - he was driving in his car when that piece of music appeared to him, tantalising, but he didn't have a paper, he didn't have a pen, and all those old anxieties started popping up in him, that he was going to lose it and he was never going to get it again, and then he said to his genius, would you please come back at a more opportune moment - or otherwise go bother someone else today, go bother leonard cohen or something =D

    2. Right!!! Love Leonard Cohen. Maybe all the stray inspiration did go to him...http://youtu.be/YrLk4vdY28Q

  2. by the way, have you read the artist's way? it's a very neat excise in fostering that relationship with the creative genius.

    1. So, what's artist's way?

    2. It's a book http://www.amazon.com/The-Artists-Way-Julia-Cameron/dp/1585421464/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378066610&sr=8-1&keywords=the+artists+way

      but you can download it here

  3. I found your comments about God to be interesting. I also have my own ideas which are hard to put into words, but I guess I've boiled it down to the following. I believe in God/higher power, I don't believe in churches. I believe God loves us all equally, no matter if we go to church or not, no matter our sexual orientation, colour, beliefs etc.
    There's a part of me now that I've got it in my head what I believe that wants the Mormons or whoever to come up the drive. I'm not entirely sure if they'd enjoy it though as their belief system requires a church.