Friday, August 6, 2010

Cogitation

Lately I’ve been thinking about….well….thinking. I mean, just what is thinking all about, anyway? Why do we think? Who started thinking first? When did I start thinking? You know… the simple stuff. I know, this all sounds like Freshman Philosophy 101 or the stuff of a midnight dorm room bull session (which are basically one in the same thing) but when you think about it, thinking is a pretty big deal. A real philosopher, Rene Descartes, thought about it. In fact he thought about it so much, that he determined the only way he could prove he existed at all was that he could think about stuff. Actually what he said was “Dubito ergo cogito; cogito ergo sum” (I doubt, therefore I think; I think, therefore I am). He started doubting that things actually existed but were, instead, figments of his imagination. Is that table really there or do I just think it’s there? That sort of stuff. He had taken it all the way to doubting that he himself actually existed when it dawned on him that if he could doubt, it meant that there was some organized force that was thinking and creating the doubt. So, if thinking was going on he must actually exist because if he didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be anyone to do the thinking which created the doubting, etc., etc. Anyway, it worked for him. Another thing about thinking that gets me thinking is that there doesn’t seem to be any rules. You can think of simple things or complex things. You’re thinking can be right or wrong or both at the same time (you can be right that you’re wrong or wrong that you’re right). You can think something is there and it is or think that it is and it’s not. You can think you know what you’re talking about when you really don’t…take my blog for example… Another thing…..you never stop thinking, even when you’re asleep. When you’re asleep, they call it dreaming. Don’t believe me? Just try to stop thinking. Then all you can do is think about not thinking. Hmmmm, this could go on forever…..which, by the way, is one of the best things about thinking. It never will stop, even when your body does. For now, I think I’m tired of all of this thinking…………………Later.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tombstones

Lately I've been thinking about Epitaphs.  Its not that I'm in any hurry to put one to use, its just that ever since my lovely wife and I took a stroll around City Cemetery here in Salt Lake, they've been on my mind.  I've always enjoyed walking through a cemetery and reading the grave stones.  I like trying to get a sense of a persons life by comparing the dates on their head stones to what I know of the history of the times in which they lived, the length of their lives, the presence or absence of family members near them and, sometimes the best of all, the few brief words which may be chiseled there.  Some of these inscriptions are not of much use in constructing a picture of the person lying there.  "Rest in Peace" doesn't really give you much to go on.  Others may be lengthier but still give you no real insight.  They may be meant to offer comfort to those left behind such as "The Lord is My Shepherd" or "Even so In Christ, Shall All be Made Alive".  They also reveal little of the personality of the one being memorialized.  Others begin to open a window ever so slightly on the life being commemorated.  Statements such as "Beloved Mother" (Wife, Father, Son etc.) or "Gone too Soon" help you begin to build a mental image of a person's life.  However, the ones I appreciate the most are the statements that in some way try to capture the essence of a life now passed.  Some are a line from a favorite poem. "She walks in Beauty as the Night" or "Awaiting the Touch of a Little Hand, the Smile of a Little Face".  Others may address themselves to the nature of the person:  "A Gentle Man and a Gentleman", "She Always had a Smile on Her Face" and "Her Heart was Pure and Full of Joy". 

I know I won't really get to pick my own when its my time.  After all, at that point what I want said about me won't be as important as what those who remain need to say in order to remember me best.  But, after looking back on the undeserved gift this life has been and seeing all the triumphs and sorrows, all the time I've soared or  fallen and how often I've needed forgiveness and received it; I'd like to suggest the following to those who will consider what to say to sum up my life.  In the words of one of my very favorite hymns............
"O, to Grace How Great a Debtor"   ...............................................Later