Topic Tuesday #176 2015/12/15 "Sabbatical"

Topic Tuesday #176 2015/12/15 "Sabbatical

sab·bat·i·cal səˈbadək(ə)l/

noun- a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year"

Though I may not be a professor, and though I have not been doing this blog for 7 years, I am going to take a wee break. I missed one, and then two and now I am under the weather with the Christmas season upon me. I will resume the Topic Tuesday Blog in 2016.

Until then, tune in (or download) the O'Rly Radio Show with fresh content every Friday at 9:30 pm eastern, available at and on finer podcast aggregators around the world.

Topic Tuesday #162 2015/08/25 "Musings on Transience and the Meaning of Life"

Topic Tuesday #162 2015/08/25 "Musings on Transience and the Meaning of Life"

Greetings readers. My brain seems to be short on contemplativeness this evening, so I will bring up one that tends to haunt me. Transience. 

As a human being, it seems in our nature to want to make things that last beyond us. We are all inherently afraid to die. The psychology behind this need to continue existing is long and extensive and fairly well understood academically. It stems from the basic self preservation instinct that exists in all living things. Live as long as you can to continue the species. We have our big brains to out think our biology and we can consciously choose to not produce offspring, but I have to wonder if that choice is enough. Perhaps our subconscious will always spur us forward to make something that will outlast our own pathetic life spans. Perhaps the more artistic types will give birth to a painting, novel, sculpture, a piece of music, even a simple poem. The more technical minded may create empires of technology; stone, steel, silicon. Others will create businesses that may do nothing but perpetuate themselves, constantly reinventing themselves to adjust to market forces. It seems that as a human, we are driven to create a legacy of some type, be it biological, intellectual, or something firmly tangible. 

There seems to be another component to this inborn trait: we can never really stop. We are so programmed that we will always create something. We can't help it, and perhaps those that do have the self control to say enough is enough are the broken ones, as the vast majority can never relent.

So, I often sit and ponder my legacy. I write this blog every Tuesday, as a kind of legacy; one for my daughters to read through when they are old enough to be on their own but still need to listen to their dad drone on about this or that in hopes of imparting some tidbit of helpful insight into our human condition. I still have a lot to do, and often I feel stifled. I want to write that great american novel. I want to build my dream house. I want to travel the world to see it all. I want to play though that video game and binge watch all the popular TV and movies I have collected. I have issues... I have to eat. I have mouths to feed. I have responsibilities. So my desires to curtail my own transience on the good Earth, are held in limbo among other cognitively dissonant conundrums. Metaphorically, I am on hold - doodling on the corner of an envelope, wishing I were somewhere else doing something else, while the voice of my father rings in the back of my mind.

"Be present. Be here. Here is all there is. Find happiness in the moment, for the moment will never come again."

So I smile. I listen to the hold music and feel the fan's discordant buffeting against my face. It feels good, like the physical expression of white noise. I clear my mind. I take stock. Life is pretty good when you slow down to realize you are alive and amidst a great number of perfectly improbable things. Live in the now with the aim at a better tomorrow, for yourself and others. That is your legacy, and mine.  

Topic Tuesday #149 2015/05/26 "Expectations"

Topic Tuesday #149 2015/05/26 "Expectations"

Look, I was promised flying cars and moon bases, okay..? I have a thing or two to say about expectations versus reality (as does everyone currently alive), but as I like to have a special relationship with reality by respecting it exists, I have lowered my aspirations to meet it. 

Recently a friend has had a run in with the intersection of reality and expectations at the crossroads where they diverge. It's hard on him to square this new aspect of reality to his pre-existing one. This is leading to a great deal of existential angst. I completely understand how it can be painful as I would wager we have all been disillusioned, of certain notions or had our noses rubbed in an unpleasant reality, from time to time. Be that as it may, reality doesn't care what we think of it. The universe, for all its wonders, is apathetic to its inhabitants. That quantum foam and fundamental forces don't care about what they look like on a macro scale is humbling. 

Long ago (in a galaxy not so far away), this revelation hit me pretty hard; it had ramifications and implications that my little mind had to grow to accept. This is my story and your milage may vary. I had to accept that there wasn't a guiding force behind me. That beyond my tribe, no one was going to care if I lived or died, succeeded or failed, lived up to expectations - or not. I was pretty much on my own in this big uncaring universe. It was up to me to be remembered or time would certainly forget me. The old saying goes, "Make hay while the sun shines." That seems appropriate a metaphor for life spent making legacies.  

Now, let's be plain, I care a great deal about what my friends and whatever they are going through. My path is my own and I can not profess any special knowledge as to how all this works, only what I have found works for me. If you find that spirituality, religion, mysticism, folk remedies, chakra alignment of your subluxation energy aura something or other, works for you - That's grand! HOWEVER - I have a request. Please make sure your views have a strong basis in reality. Believe as many factual things and as few false things as possible. You are less likely to suffer the heartache of realizing that Santa is not going to bring your flying car so you can spend Christmas on the Moon, and more likely to build it yourself.