Wednesday, July 29, 2009

looking for the large

We returned yesterday from 5 days in New Brunswick at a Roundtable Leadership Retreat. There was a lot of sitting and talking and listening, but some time was made for fun and games, tasty food, and a hike up Dominion Hill where I watched my 2 fellow hikers cut down several dead trees with the chainsaw. Good stuff! However, I am pretty tired today from the lack of sleep due to a very early morning flight back (only 4.5 horizontal hours), recovering from the cold I caught while there (coughing - yuck!), and having to fast for a blood test today. (Giving blood just takes a lot out of me.)

Anyway, in all my travels I started reading a book about the life of Einstein. This brilliant man was a wonderful friend to many around him who shared his passion for learning and discovery. However, authority figures were frequently put off by his seeming disregard for their position and the accepted social and political practices of the time. His direct and abrasive manner caused him to lose marks at school, brought many to scoff at his methods and theories, and cost him more than a few jobs. But it seems that his supposed problem with authority was exactly what enabled him to go beyond the accepted scientific thoughts and theories of the day. He did not accept the order of things around him, but looked for something more satisfying. Something larger.

He dismissed rote learning. He taught by asking questions. He invited anyone to argue and wrestle over grand problems with him. He looked for unity in the universe, believing that the many natural laws of physics could be connected by something greater (the theory of relativity). His formulas led him to the frustrating conclusion that the universe was expanding, a notion that he tried hard to ignore. At first, he even fudged some of his findings in an effort to reinforce the view of a static universe, but he could not ignore the numbers. The man who questioned everything knew that he had to follow the logic, even if it implied that there was a point of creation, an idea he had been unwilling to embrace.

People who do great things are often those who end up kicking against authority in some way. I don't believe questioning authority is wrong in itself, but it can lead to some unhealthy attitudes if we are not humble in seeing our own limitations. Passively working within the system we find ourselves in, however, almost guarantees nothing of greatness will ever come from us. It is a supposedly safer, yet in reality far more dangerous way to live, for in doing so we sacrifice all our potential for the sake of the familiar, the comfortable, the predictable, and the easy answers. It is the submission to something small.

Let me always submit myself to the largest Mystery I can find.

These are some deer prints that we found along the road while on a walk near Dominion Hill.

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