Friday, June 14, 2013

I think I can, I think I can, I really do

Ignorance is not usually bliss, at least in my life, but it can be an aid of some power.  I read that I might sleep better if I covered up my clock so I can't easily take a peek and bemoan how many minutes I have lain awake.  

Sister Joan Chittister quotes James Thurber:

"I am sixty-five and I guess that puts me in with the geriatrics," James Thurber remarked. "But if there were fifteen months in every year, I'd only be forty-eight. That's the trouble with us: We number everything."

Joan Chittister. The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully (p. 21). Kindle Edition.

The other day, I wrote about defending numbers and overly disliking or disdaining them.  But they can capture us.  A team from a small high school may know that they are about to play a team from a much bigger school.  Approaching the playing field thinking how many more students in the other school can despirit the players.

Thurber is right.  Numbers are usually arbitrary.  We had a reason for making a year = 365 ¼ days but we could indeed use a different measure.  When I wake up in the middle of the night, I have to stop and ask myself how I feel, how long it actually feels that I have slept.  If I forget my age, I could stop and ask myself if I feel like a senior citizen.  When we use the Fahrenheit temperature scale, we can be tricked by the number into thinking that 80° is twice as hot as 40° when it is only 8% warmer.  We were tricked by the numbers without realizing that the actual situation of no heat is much colder than either of those temperatures.  40 F is actually 277.6 on the Kelvin or absolute scale.  80 is actually 299.8.  You can see that 277 is actually rather close to 299.

Of course we can misjudge.  We might boast of being young and spry when we aren't.  We might "feel" that our bank account is full when it really isn't.  Still, psychologists, coaches, teachers, and physicians are quite aware that attitude, feelings and suppositions matter very much.  By reading, hypnosis, sermons, pep talks or other inspirations, we can sometimes heal from serious threats, defeat enemies more numerous than we are or otherwise surprise the odds makers.  Deepak Chopra tells of a real incident of miners trapped in a collapse.  They had little air and might not have been rescued in time.  One man had a watch and as an aid, he called out the hours as they passed but called only one hour for every two that passed.  The others survived but he did not. 

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