DAYS 40-42: Up to 7 Minutes of Gazing

sunset on the water
Brian Hogan

“All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.” -Ambrose Bierce.

So here’s my philosophy, all paths lead to the same place so let’s let everybody live how they want to live. I have been gazing steadily at sunset for the last few days. Despite this new re-commitment to my devotion (after my hangover missed day) and the large amounts of sunlight (about seven minutes each time) I have been having a pretty tumultuous weekend. I have been feeling a calm and tranquility that is mystical, deep, and steady. So you can imagine my surprise when the naysayers started to get under my skin and really piss me off over the weekend. Some of the closest people in my life don’t know what to make of the sun-gazing. They don’t try to stop me, but if they could they would. People have been accusing “how can you be so sure it will work?” Well, I’m actually not sure, I reply, that’s why I’m doing an experiment. But this is met with indignant grunts and eye rolls. It’s just not rational and it’s dangerous, simple as that! Oh, well, I was thinking it was kinda heroic, but everyone is entitled to their point of view. 

I also recently read an article on RationalWiki.com that said categorically we cannot harvest the sun’s energy in the eye. Okay, maybe so, but are we really willing to say we are certain, without any tests? The article rests on the knowledge that we don’t have the same kind of photoreceptors as plants, that allow them to harvest the sunlight for energy. The article has no evidence to support or disprove the theory. The theory sounds reasonable enough. But in science classes centuries ago we were told the earth was flat. That turned out to be completely wrong. And the best minds believed this way. We were told this based on the best theory (read: guess) of the time, not because we knew it for sure, but because we thought we were right. Only one hundred years ago we were told flight was impossible. A mere fifty years ago or so we were told the atom was the smallest particle, with this same stubborn certainty. We were wrong on all counts. And a measly thirteen years ago we were told that the Twin Towers collapsed from the bottom because planes hit them at the top. This is just the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. But it’s the prevailing theory. And just like in the days of Galileo, we as a species seem to find comfort in believing the prevailing theory, even as a scientist wastes away in jail, or the truth remains buried under Freedom Tower. If most of us believe it’s true, it’s just easier for the rest of us to fall in line. 

This makes sense, after all, because we are a generation raised in a culture that glorifies lies and honors secrets. From the simple to the most nefarious, the lies of our culture are all around us. I was told by more than one teacher that if I crossed my eyes for too long they’d get stuck. That’s a lie, told by a teacher! If we frown too long our face will freeze that way. Another lie. From the Santa Clause myth to the propaganda about why war is necessary, we have built our society on deception. The grand lies from the government and the banks keep the paper economy turning; while the white lies we tell to each other and ourselves keep us from seeing this at all. 

So I have no intention of taking anyone’s word for it when they tell me that the sun can heal or that it can blind me. I’m not taking anyone’s word for anything more than what it is. As the Big Lebowski would say “that’s just your opinion, man.” Instead, I am conducting my own experiment, and if you don’t like it, don’t follow along. With the internet there is more access to information than at anytime in human history; what a perfect time to explore our own passions and beliefs. I think we as a species are being called to explore our own individual paths and to celebrate complexity and novelty in a way never dreamed of in generations past. The world is too complex to follow obsolete patterns of culture. We each need to map out our own journey. What works for one person will not work for another. Nothing is fool proof. But if you think there is something that’s absolute truth for all of us, all the time, then you really are a fool. We live in a time where we have virtually unrestricted access to anything we want to know. It makes sense to explore whatever rivers stir our passions, not to just get carried by the flow of the mainstream. Maybe that makes us philosophers, maybe lunatics. Or maybe as Ambrose Bierce suggests, they really are the same thing. 

SIDE EFFECTS: None 

BENEFITS: I have more and more courage to explore my own path, no matter how that looks to anyone else. 

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About Brian

About Brian

Brian is a Writer, Clarity Coach, Filmmaker and Adjunct Professor who loves teaching and learning, and living in the uncertainty of it all.

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