For my composition students' first paper, they wrote an essay based on a quote. Below is one of the quotes they were allowed to choose to write their paper on as well as my own meditation on the quote's meaning.
What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Several years ago, I took a cruise with my parents to Alaska; the wonderful thing about cruising to Alaska is that you get to see those narrow crannies that you would otherwise fly over in an airplane. We traveled up the inlets that lie between the mainland and elongated islands that trace the coast all the way to Alaska. I remember seeing a waterfall crashing down from a cliff in the far-off distance. It seemed tiny, no bigger than the width of my thumb. But as I watched, a giant yacht sailed to the foot of it, and the waterfall was the same width as the boat. In actuality, the waterfall was massive; it was my own eyes that were tiny.
We take in the world through our five senses, but everything we sense is only an interpretation of the reality outside of us. Everything that we believe occurs in the outside world, the things we drink with our eyes, taste with our noses, sense with our skin, swallow with our ears, and explore with our taste buds--these things exist in our imagination. Our brains construct the world around us.
Scientists say it takes one second for the glow of the moon to reach us, eight minutes for light from the sun, thirty-five minutes for Jupiter's reflection, and nine years for the glow from Sirius, also called the dog star. So essentially, all the light from space is in the past. If a star exploded somewhere far, far away, we might not be aware of it for centuries.
In the same way, the world we interpret is a historical artifact. Sure, we sense things on Earth much more quickly than those far-away worlds we get mere glimpses of, but still, everything we sense takes time to move from our sensory organs to our brains. Even then, it takes milliseconds for our brains to receive and process information.
I know that what the quote this post began with is one of inspiration--that we can overcome adversity with our willpower, that we are greater than our past or present, but I think it's an intriguing exercise to twist ideas and see what trickles out.
The world outside of us is majestic in its complexity, and so are we.
Word and Book Lover.