Sunday, September 8, 2019

A longer view

  • Growing up, I never pictured living in the northern Midwest, where I have lived for more than 50 years

  • Getting married, I never pictured being married for 59 years

  • Retiring, I had no idea that I would create a "blog" that would have a daily post 87% of the time and run for more than 11 years

A friend recently retired and started a blog.  After a couple of months, it was surprising at how many achievements that had seemed likely in retirement had not been attained. It is true that the older we get, the more likely we are to come to the end of life so things can end abruptly.  Still, it seems wise to take a yearly or longer viewpoint when looking at either plans or achievements.  

During my student years, I never felt that the subject of history was interesting or worth my while.  I didn't notice that science, a subject I was interested in and admired, was almost a branch of history.  The report of an experiment has to include information gathered over time. Scientific reviews of a line of development include subsequent modifications and experimental adjustments.  In other words, a history.

I have come to realize that one's version of history gets adjusted, modified, edited, revised.  Listening to Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert's "Stumbling on Happiness", I learn that the imagination does something like what our visual system does.  When we try to imagine something far in the future, we use our present situation as a basis and only picture a rough outline of what we are imagining. We work similarly to the eye spying animals far in the distance and only see vaguely in the mind's eye.

Because much of our present focus is on wealth, we Americans tend to want speed.  How can we get rich quickly? How can we achieve our goals rapidly? But our days and our planet proceed at the same speed, 7 days to the week.  So, over time, surprising things may occur. Further, effects accumulate and our lives a year or two from now may include unexpected and more or less unpredictable factors and feelings we don't have any way of seeing approach us.

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