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"The primary focus of this path of choosing wisely is learning to stay present. Pausing very briefly, frequently throughout the day, is an almost effortless way to do this. For just a few seconds we can be right here. Meditation is another way to train in learning to stay or learning to come back, to return to the present over and over again."
~ Pema Chödrön, from Taking the Leap  
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Entries in science (77)


The Preparation for Those Moments is Your Life

"If you view crossing the finish line as the measure of your life, you’re setting yourself up for a personal disaster. There are very very very few people who win gold at the Olympics. And if you say, ‘if I don’t win gold then I’m a failure or I’ve let somebody down or something...’

What if you win a silver? What if you win a bronze? What if you come fourth? What if your binding comes apart?

What if all of those millions of things that happen in life happen...

Only a few people that go there are going to win gold. And it’s the same in some degree I think in commanding a spaceship or doing a spacewalk it is a very rare, singular moment-in-time event in the continuum of life.

And you need to honour the highs and the peaks in the moments — you need to prepare your life for them — but recognize the fact that the preparation for those moments is your life and, in fact, that’s the richness of your life...

The challenge that we set for each other, and the way that we shape ourselves to rise to that challenge, is life."

~ Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut 

See also: 

  • Hadfield, C. (2013). An astronaut's guide to life on Earth.
  • Adams, S. (2013). How to fail at almost everything and still win big: Kind of the story of my life. (systems over goals)

The Universe is in Us

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked in an interview with TIME magazine, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?" This is his answer.

The Most Astounding Fact from Max Schlickenmeyer on Vimeo.

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A Moment of Direct Perception

Excerpt from "Holding Life Consciously," a conversation with Arthur Zajonc, On Being, June 24, 2010: 

Prof. Zajonc: People have a wrong kind of idea of how discoveries happen in science. They think you kind of calculate your way towards the discovery. It never works that way. You may embed yourself in the math. You may study it thoroughly or you may work within the lab context and have data sets that you're pouring over, but the insight comes in a flash. It's walking across a bridge in Dublin and inscribing the formula for the quaternions, how they're going to work, in pure mathematics. Or it's Newton seeing an apple fall. And when he sees the apple fall, he says, "Well, that's exactly the same as the moon overhead." They look totally different, but he sees them as congruent with one another.

Then you get busy with the math and you say could that be? You get busy with the experiment that's going to confirm or disconfirm what it is you've just seen, but you've seen it intuitively. You've seen it as what Goethe calls an aperçu, a moment of perception, direct perception. And for Goethe, that moment of discovery was the key. Everything else that follows on is of less interest to him. His interests are less with the technical sides of science than with its application to human life, to the arts of course -- painting among other arts. And so he's interested in what he calls the sensory-moral, or sinnlich-sittliche, sensory-moral aspects of color.

Ms. Tippett: Right. Right. I mean, here's a sentence that you wrote: "Goethe forcefully holds our attention to the epiphanous moments in science, the poetry that is the heart of science." Explain that to me, "the poetry that is the heart of science."

Prof. Zajonc: Knowledge is not an object that you acquire. It's not a mechanism that somehow you provide to the human mind. It's actually an epiphanal moment. And I think this is true of the arts, poetry, painting, music, and I would say also to spiritual understanding.


Perception is Relative


Editing Memories

"Can we edit the content of our memories? It’s a sci-fi-tinged question that Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu are asking in their lab at MIT. Essentially, the pair shoot a laser beam into the brain of a living mouse to activate and manipulate its memory. In this unexpectedly amusing talk they share not only how, but  more importantly why they do this." 

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