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You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in my fantasy adventure series. Visit the Edge of the World! Come for the view, stay for the adventure!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Profound Trivialities-

All of history culminates at this moment, right now, with you reading my words. I call this a profound triviality, because I just don't have the necessary ego to assume that anything of much significance shall come to pass as a consequence of your reading my words. They are just pebbles in the stream of your consciousness, causing ripples that shall quickly dissipate into the general flow of your experience.

It is profound because it is true. Wars were fought, kingdoms gained and lost, empires built and collapsed, a singularity exploded, and much more came to pass to bring about this moment. You, and me, and my words. Profound. Trivial.

I recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In it Gladwell confirmed something I had previously thought about, an idea that is the consequence of my narcissistic reflective nature. Each of us is very much the culmination of our time and our immediate culture. Profound. Trivial. We don't stand alone, and forces seen and unseen shape us.

Additionally, he points out that we are the culmination of our extended background. He provides anecdotal evidence and various supports for this protracted formation of you and me, and refers to research that supports his ideas as written. The cultures of our progenitors influence who and what we are, going back for generations. Cultures far different from the one that immediately shapes us.

His examples include several relating to the Scotch-Irish who migrated to the United States generations ago. My progenitors, though not exclusively so. Consequently, I was able to relate quite personally to the examples offered. Some holes in my self-concept were filled in, and I understand myself a bit better as a consequence of reading the book.

As I said, I am narcissistic and reflective by nature.

This kind of information could, of course, form the basis of an excuse. "I can't help who I am. I was just made this way." To some degree that is true. However, it can also serve as knowledge and a tool for change. Knowing who and what I am can put the reigns in my hand and I can determine who and what I will be. I can use the forces that shaped me to shape myself further.

That is profound, and not necessarily trivial.

Each of us is only responsible to a small degree for where we are and how we got here. However, we are not powerless in determining where we shall go from here, and we have considerable power in determining who we shall become. We can make choices, and not all choices are as trivial as they may at first seem to be.

Imagine yourself standing at the North Pole. Right smack on top of it. The geographical North Pole, not the magnetic one. I don't want to add too many variables into this illustration. Oh, wait. I just did that, didn't I? Anyway, you stand on the Geographical North Pole.

What direction are you facing? If you turn ninety degrees to your left, what direction are you facing? If you turn around, all the way around, and then turn 22.6 degrees to the right, what direction are you facing? Keep in mind, you are standing as far North as anyone can go.

At the North Pole there is only one direction you can face. South. Yet turning just a tiny bit in any direction would radically alter what places you would visit as you traveled South. Just about any of them would probably seem appealing. The North Pole is cold and not particularly interesting.

It is profoundly trivial, just like this moment in time.

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