Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Immutable Nature of Reality

• Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equpped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vaccuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons.
Popular Mechanics, March 1949
• There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.
Ken Olsen, President, Digital Equipment, 1977
• The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armor to lead all his customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who, by peddling second-hand, second-rate technology, led them all into it in the first place.
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Well, it is very true that reality can be a tough concept to nail down.

The invention of the stirrup in the Middle Ages allowed the Mongols to conquer more advanced civilizations in Europe and Asia. In the early part of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein proved light has weight. And right now, Jerry Lewis is considered a genius in France.

This does not mean that (big R) Reality changes. Light always had weight; we just didn't know that. With more knowledge, our perception of reality changes.

It is in our best interest to have our own, personal, reality as much aligned with Reality as possible. In our own head, anything can happen. Our imaginations are the most incredible tool in our repertoire. Better than walking upright, better than speech, better than opposable thumbs.

Because if we can't imagine it, it can never take that first, wobbly, step into Being.

It can't end there, however. Our ideas have to take shape in the big outer Reality to come true. They have to get pounded by the surf, rolled around by the tides, even drawn off course by the undertow, before they actually set sail.

That's when things actually start to happen.

Too often, people are thrown off by the battering their ideas take when they are first launched into Reality. "This isn't how I imagined it!" they wail. Of course not. When we imagine it, all obstacles are smoothed over and all opposition melts away. When we imagine it, it all takes place in our heads, and we skim over the bumpy parts.

It's the difference between deciding what you are going to do under the sink to install the new faucet, and what actually takes place under the sink, where the unexpected always happens. That's how that imagined half hour job turns into a whole day, with three trips to the hardware store thrown in.

But unless we grapple with the reality under the sink, the new faucet will never give us water.

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