Enlightened Conflict

Imagination requires a great deal of fortitude, creativity and hard work

January 18th, 2015

imagination infinite



“It’s extremely exciting to know that planets with potentially Earth-like conditions are out there, but learning what they actually are like will require a great deal of fortitude, creativity and hard work.”


Gregory Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz


“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.”


John Dewey








Yesterday USAToday wrote … “Another Earth may be 500 light years away.”



No way.




dead end

How awesome is that? <answer: awesome>





And I immediately thought … “inevitably we will show a failure of imagination.”


What do I mean ?



Well. I should be excited but instead I am wary of how ‘we the people’ will move forward. In fact … I envision no moving forward, no ‘trying to do what it takes to get there’ and no imagination to overcome the cries of ‘why waste money on something like this!”







Let me get the ‘another earth’ detail out of the way first.







Some 500 light-years away, a little planet basks comfortably in the heat of its sun. It’s probably rocky – as the Earth is – and it’s probably just the right temperature to boast liquid water. In other words, it’s about as close to Earth as any planet we know of.

Unveiled at a recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society, the planet Kepler-438b may be the Earth twin that researchers have long sought. Other planets have made claims to that title, but Kepler-438b is more similar to Earth in both size and in the amount of energy it receives from its star than a celebrated runner-up, several scientists said.

That runner-up, planet Kepler-186f, might be called “a cousin of Earth,” the University of Puerto Rico’s Abel Mendez, keeper of a database of planets outside our solar system, said via email. But 438b and another recently discovered planet are “brother and sister-in-law. We are getting closer.”

Kepler-438b and compatriot planet Kepler-442 b “are the best candidates we have so far for Earth analogues,” said astronomer Willy Torres of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a co-author of a paper in The Astrophysical Journal describing the new planets. Both were found with the help of NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which launched into space in 2009.

Kepler 438-b is only 12 percent bigger in diameter than Earth, unlike the large number of “super-Earths” scientists have turned up outside our solar system. It has a 70 percent chance of being rocky, which scientists regard as a requirement for supporting life. And its surface receives roughly 40 percent more energy from its small star than Earth’s surface receives from the sun.

Kepler-438b “could be a perfect twin of Earth. We just don’t know, because we can’t pin down the measurements,” Torres said.

Sadly, Kepler-438b may represent something of an astronomical dead end. It is so far away, and its star so dim, that finding out whether it bears life or even an atmosphere is a daunting challenge, if not impossible.

“Discoveries of worlds like Kepler-438b are simultaneously satisfying and tantalizing,” planet-hunter Gregory Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said via email. “It’s extremely exciting to know that planets with potentially Earth-like conditions are out there, but learning what they actually are like will require a great deal of fortitude, creativity and hard work.”

Unlike previously discovered planets outside the solar system, these candidates orbit stars much like our own sun.

“These candidates represent the closest analogues to the Earth-sun system to date,” said Mullally, “and this is what Kepler has been looking for.”

These new Earth-sized candidate planets in the water-friendly zone of their stars “are super-exciting,” said Lehigh University astronomer Joshua Pepper.




imagination will take you everywhere

Ok <part 1>.



This is awesome.


I don’t care if it is 500 miles or 500 light years … it is a journey we should seek to take. It is a ‘task’ of which we should partake.


It is a task with an objective but not the means < today> to attain the objective.



This is where we, the people, typically excel.


When we are told it is not possible.




Ok <part 2>.




Now my concerns.



All this ‘another earth’ seems slightly impossible doesn’t it?






Only with the failure of imagination.




I wrote about this ‘failure’ once before in 2011

<many of the words & thoughts remain relevant to the topic today>:



failure and success

The key thought in the words I wrote then:


We seem to have become the generation of measurement rather than the generation of imagination.





ROI, measurement … practical rewards & output … that is what we ‘do’ these days.



This is how we conduct business and … well … lives.



We seem to have forgotten the value of unsought discovery.



We seem to have culturally turned our back on imagination … and the power of imagination.




What if we were to send a ship with dozens of people and create a new civilization?



What if we could start a world from scratch?




marvin and daffy earthShit.



What if we found another civilization already residing on this ‘other Earth’?







I am afraid we will never even get out of our solar system let alone explore the universe other than telescopes and unmanned probes.



It is because of a lack of imagination that we don’t see that actually exploring the universe would be the greatest journey of all for us as a species.


The comments under the article unequivocally reflect a majority of “so what.” Or “why waste our time.”




… it simply makes no difference either way.

500 light years is far beyond our practical reach so long as the speed of light is an absolute limit.

While it’s interesting to fantasize about the possibilities in the future the fact is that it is very possible that we will never be able to bridge the incredible vastness of space to other potentially habitable planets.






My main answer to this negative view of imagination <it’s not failure … simply the inability to envision ‘what could be’:



“Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality.”


Jules de Gaultier






innovation imagination

I want to be careful here because I do not want to diminish the individual challenges many people have with regard to paying everyday bills and the day to day pressures of enduring a recession.




But we, as a whole, need to think long term.



What makes civilization great is how we forge through crap like unemployment and recession and day-to-day challenges and get to ‘hope’ and imagination and innovation and find out what is beyond the next horizon.


I would also point out that the reaching for the horizon tends to solve unemployment and recession and the day-to-day hardships thru innovations and overall betterment of Life.
If America decided to ‘do’ this project … assume responsibility for reaching another Earth … we will succeed.




Not by working harder than anyone else. But because we permit hope and imagination to prosper.








Maybe I am crazy.

imagination fail dream





If I am … let me be content in my craziness.



“Here’s to the crazy ones.

The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently.

While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”


Short version of an Apple Computer Ad





I am no genius by any stretch of the imagination.





I can recognize the value of imagination.



The value of discovery.



The value of seeking what is beyond the horizon.



“Imagination has brought mankind through the dark ages to its present state of civilization.

Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity. Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities.

So I believe that dreams–daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing–are likely to lead to the betterment of the world.

The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to invent, and therefore to foster, civilization.”


L. Frank Baum


imagination portugese


Imagination fosters civilization.




Imagination fosters all that ‘could be.’



The search for the way to reach ‘another Earth’ is one big prosperous innovation initiative … assuming someone has the kahones to do it.



This is the rebirth of NASA.




This is the rebirth of imagination.

odd little waiters bringing things you don’t always like

September 20th, 2014

odd waiters and stones




“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”


Lemony Snicket







I wrote thoughts on fate on sept. 22nd 2013 in a post called ‘seize fate’:





I mention that post because I used what Beethoven actually said … “I shall seize fate by the throat.”







That means Beethoven would have strangled a shitload of odd little waiters.

odd waiter glass




It’s easy to think of Fate as odd little waiters as some strange unknown people guiding our direction in life … often by giving us the unasked for dishes.



I like the thought that we have some destiny … some fate … awaiting us.


That there is some reason for being here.





















The struggle I imagine I have in my head with regard to this whole Fate and having odd little waiters bringing my fate to me is … well … that I like doing … and not waiting.




And the thought of permitting something theoretical like ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ to take me by the hand and lead me somewhere doesn’t sit well with me.



And I also imagine that part of Life is figuring all this shit out.

fate meets coincidence


Fate is a combination of reacting <to circumstances thrust upon you like dishes you never ordered> and being proactive <thrusting yourself into and against circumstances>.




This also suggests the ability in shifting the course of things.






Whenever people attempt to shift the course of things … things can go horribly wrong.



But doing nothing … and not making the attempt?


fate seize by throat
Maybe just as risky.




Fate is more than assuming history … or what will be … has a shape.


Fate actually assumes in some way you have a role in shaping it.





“Fate makes demands of flesh and blood.

And what does it most often demand?

Flesh and blood.”




Russian proverb



And this means meeting the dreams of fate … flesh & blood … or what is called ‘Kairos.’




<kairos: http://brucemctague.com/where-time-and-destiny-meet >




Kairos is the ability to adapt to and take advantage of changing circumstances.



The concept suggests you can manage what fate has in store for you if you manage the circumstances as they arise.




This also suggests that fate has a whole kitchen of possible dishes to serve you … not just one. And depending on what you do and how you act and what you say … the odd little waiter may end up bringing you something other than what it thought it was going to bring you a moment ago.



This also suggests some boldness.fate waiters andreas




Not really that ‘fate favors the brave’ but rather having the audacity to believe in this wild and wacky and somewhat chaotic world … you can actually have a say in your fate.



This also means that even if you balk at the concept of ‘being bold’ … suffice it to say that fate favors those who actually show up:




Interestingly … it was JK Rowling who said something along the same lines …



“Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”


J.K. Rowling



Showing up is what it is all about.




It seems almost weird to even suggest this … but … simply showing up can have dramatic consequences.







Even something as unspectacular as ‘showing up’ can be a choice which has dramatic consequences to your destiny.



We think of fate when looking in a rear view mirror.



And often we do so without thinking about the choices … and the choices WE made … led us to the place where we saw what we saw in that rear view mirror.



And I imagine we rarely think about showing up as a key choice with some dramatic consequences.







You know … I imagine we all have to believe in some way we are here for a reason.



And that is where Fate or Destiny resides.



Somewhere in that ever elusive ‘reason.’



What do I mean?




Fate and destiny are the end accomplishment.





But it’s kind of up to you to figure out what that destination is.





Unfortunately fate or destiny … well … they tend to be quiet fellows <or women>.




They tend to keep their thoughts to themselves.




Even worse?



They have a tendency to hide so you can’t sit them down and say ‘what is my fate?’ … ‘what is my destiny?’ … ‘tell me where to go’.





That makes life a little tricky because it makes some really important shit unable to be seen. So you have to make some guesses. Or maybe we should call it some ‘leaps of faith.’






I read somewhere there is the seen and the unseen.



That not all is certainty in the world because if there were … there would be no opportunity for faith.



In other words … there would never be any opportunities for a ‘leap of faith.’







Certainty sounds pretty frickin’ nice … but … it would also seem to be a pretty dull world without that ‘faith.’



<at least in my eyes>










Sometimes you kind of have to reach out … either with faith … or maybe out of sheer frustration … and grab one of the odd little waiters by the throat and say ‘here is my fate … this is my destiny … now go back to the kitchen and return this frickin’ dish.”’




So, in the end, maybe Fate sometimes does need to be seized by the throat.




“I shall seize an odd little waiter by the throat and order my fate.”




In the end.



You have a choice with regard to your fate …and that’s to show up and make some choices … make some leaps of faith.right thing wrong choice






I cannot suggest nor guarantee that all choices will be good or even guide you well … but making choices at least means your fate is a little less in the hands of some odd little waiters serving you things you haven’t ordered.





note: I also wrote this: http://brucemctague.com/coincidence-and-fate




July 9th, 2014

hugh life nature and you


“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

Emily Dickinson


Life is startling.





That is if you let it be.


So often we spend time comparing ourselves to others … comparing our lives to others …comparing what we have versus others … and comparing where we are … versus others.


Others, others, others.



Life isn’t a race.


It is a journey for fuck’s sake.



“Stop comparing where you’re at with where everyone else is. It doesn’t move you farther ahead, improve your situation, or help you find peace. It just feeds your shame, fuels your feelings of inadequacy, and ultimately, it keeps you stuck. The reality is that best day of my lifethere is no one correct path in life. Everyone has their own unique journey. A path that’s right for someone else won’t necessarily be a path that’s right for you. And that’s okay. Your journey isn’t right or wrong, or good or bad. It’s just different. Your life isn’t meant to look like anyone else’s because you aren’t like anyone else. You’re a person all your own with a unique set of goals, obstacles, dreams, and needs. So stop comparing, and start living. You may not have ended up where you intended to go. But trust, for once, that you have ended up where you needed to be. Trust that you are in the right place at the right time. Trust that your life is enough. Trust that you are enough.”

Daniell Koepke


Life can be a shitload of fun if you enjoy it.





I can guarantee on the journey:


–    Your car will break down <on occasion>

–    You will get caught in a downpour <so strong you cannot see an inch in front of your face>

–     There will be nights so dark you will feel alone

–     You will get lost

–    You will have an accident

–    <add in any unfortunate mishap you can think of>


You will drive <you do actually get to steer you know>.

You will experience shit.



You will laugh & cry & be disappointed & be delighted.



You will be … well … startled.


startling success


“One of the interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means. A lot of the time our ideas about what it would mean to live successfully are not our own. They’re sucked in from other people. And we also suck in messages from everything from the television to advertising to marketing, etcetera. These are hugely powerful forces that define what we want and how we view ourselves. What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.”

Alain de Botton






I don’t know.



Maybe I have a whacked out view on what and how Life is and should be.life love alone valentines day









It sure sounds like a good Life.


stars and shrinking

July 1st, 2014

stars and shrinking human


“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they’d live a lot differently. When you look into infinity, you realize there are more important things than what people do all day.”

Calvin and Hobbes



We seem to focus so much on what we do every day … the ‘doing’ in Life.

And while Life doesn’t force us to do so it certainly encourages us to do so.


Life does this by throwing obstacles and things to do and responsibility in front of us seemingly as we take each step into the day.

Because Life does this … it is seemingly impossible to do anything BUT think what we do all day as the most important thing.
And I am not here to suggest what we do each day isn’t important.





Maybe I am just thinking about it.

Thinking about it in a way to make sure we aren’t doing so because we are … well … shrinking.


Shrinking before the immensity of Life.immesnity of life norman-mailer




Immensity of life.


Let’s face it … it is easy to shrink before it.


Day to day, surprisingly, is actually easier for us to face. Not suggesting it is less difficult … just easier. It is represented in … well … things.


Things to do.


Things to say.


Things to check off on a list.


Things to put on a list.


There is never a shortage of ‘things.’

Life is … well … immense.


Immense in its intangible and vagueness.


I imagine I am suggesting we don’t <or at least make the attempt> shrink from purpose in Life simply using ‘what we do in daily life’ as an excuse.

shrinking focus on

But it is hard <really hard>.


Because ‘purpose’ is vague.


It is ‘doing good’.



But … does that mean doing good for whomever is in front of you at the expense of someone else? … or doing a greater good for the planet at the expense of someone in front of you?


Yikes <again> … yes … those choices are real.


Simplistically we try to believe it is simply ‘doing the right thing.’


But sometimes the right thing for you, or from your perspective, is the wrong thing from someone else.


It is ‘having a good heart’ <meaning well>.


But does that absolve you from meaning well but still causing harm because meaning well sometimes means not making the hard decision.

Or sometimes it does.



Purpose, to be meaningful, is a combination of intangible higher order type stuff … with some tangible daily <or weekly> decisions and choices.


And it is not easy.


And it is not easy on top of what you do in your daily lives.


I do believe most of us realize there are an infinite amount of ‘bigger things’ to be done.


I do believe most of us realize there are more important things than what people do all day.


And I do believe most of us shrink before the immensity of Life.



And I do not mean that as a criticism … just as something that is normal human behavior <or reaction to what is in Life>.
I don’t have answers here.
Just questions.


As in questioning whether I pay enough attention to things beyond what people, and I, do all day.



“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”
E.E. Cummings

——–stars and thinking boy


I imagine I believe that while I do not have the answer today if I keep asking the questions maybe I will get closer to an answer tomorrow … or in some day after that.



I kind of think that is what looking at the stars reminds us of.


horse racing & life

June 7th, 2014

horses Secretariat turcotte

“Place yourself to be out of trouble, that way you’ll be able to make your move. That’s the main thing — keep the horse out of trouble, and you should have no trouble.” Ron Turcotte <last triple crown jockey>






Today we will find out if we will have the first Triple Crown winner <win the Kentucky Derby, the Pimlico Preakness in Maryland and the New York Belmont Stakes in horse racing> in over 40 years.



But it is the quote that made me think about horse racing and Life.



Keep the horse out of trouble and you should have no trouble.



Life is kind of like that.


Navigating life is as often about keeping out of the way of trouble as it is positioning yourself to win.

Actually … they are almost two sides of the same coin.


And it sounds simple.


But keeping out of the way of trouble is difficult.

For several reasons.

One is that there are a shitload of moving parts <people and things> happening in Life all around you.

Second is that every time you may zig to get around perceived trouble … trouble zags and hits you smack into the face.


Think about this.

The winner of the last Triple Crown raced maybe 20000 races … and had 17000 losses <or not wins>.

Trouble arose 17000 times or so.

<but he won 3000 times>


horse zenThe winner of the last triple crown in over 35 years … and the rider of the only horse , the only non-human, selected by Sports Illustrated as one of the 50 greatest athletes of the 20th Century … now sits in a wheelchair because of a horse racing ‘trouble’ incident.

<but he won 3000 times including a triple crown>.



His thoughts on all his?


“I am just an ordinary man who was lucky enough to accomplish something.”

The guy won 3000 races.


He met trouble head on and did what he wanted to do.

That’s called Life.






As in winning in Life:


“A lot of things have to go in your favor. You have to have a good support group. You have to have talent. You have to have trust that’s earned through adversity, going through good times and bad times, but you also have to have some good bounces and things have to go your way.”



The good bounces thing is what struck me.

Even with 3000 wins, even after all the winning … he understood the value of luck, of chance, and of fate.

And that maybe you have to have a lot of your own share of all three.


He understood that even if you are the best of the best … and doing the best of the best … the universe will sometimes do what it does.


In other words.


Success is never guaranteed.

Even if you are good … really good.

Even if you train … really train.

And even if you try your hardest.

The universe will sometimes do what it does.





Life isn’t about regret but rather an understanding of the moments … and horse hugopportunities Life provides.



“And our team is mature enough to understand that, to have perspective and to feel fortunate for this opportunity.”



I think it’s a little crazy when people say they deserve a chance … or deserve an opportunity … or because they worked hard that opportunity was deserved in some way.


Opportunities always exist … but you are not guaranteed to get them.

If you get an opportunity feel fortunate <and do your best to not waste it>.






Or trying to insure success.

Or maybe it is the different paths to success.



“…. I just have to ride him accordingly. I don’t think anyone can tell a jockey what to do. I had a free hand when I was riding most of the time, but when they tie your hand and give you orders to be placed somewhere or do this or do that — ‘I want you to lay third,’ or ‘I want you to lay fourth’ — it might be 10 horses in the race, and nine of them have the same orders.”



Or … as he summarizes direction …



“We can’t all be in the same place, so when the gate opens, you’re on your own.”



So many times we say ‘this is the way to win’ … but you know what? … everyone is trying to win.

Oftentimes winning is about context and managing the moment.

Someone can tell you ‘this is the way to do it’ but … trust me … in Life you have to use  free hand to win the race.





Humility … or maybe it is simply acceptance of what happens.


The year was 1965, and Turcotte, then 23, was aboard a horse named Tom Rolfe, whom he had ridden to a Preakness win after a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Turcotte made his move too early in that race and ended up losing by a neck at the line to a Florida-bred horse called Hail To All.


“It was completely my fault,” Turcotte said. “I knew the horse’s fitness and all that, and I should have waited a little bit longer, and I got the horse beat. I don’t know if I was one of the best (that year), but the best can get beat the same way.”




So he admitted … yup … admitted … he was the reason it lost.


Imagine that.




This guy had integrity.



In a sport that has been in the past the target of shady betting schemes, fixed races and other illegal activities associated with organized crime, Turcotte <along with Darrel McHargue and British journeyman Michael Hole> was named as an “Untouchables” – three jockeys who would never be coerced into rigging races.

It was a moniker made all the more impressive when Mafia member-turned-state witness Anthony Ciulla testified in 1980 to the widespread criminal element in New York’s jockey colony and how Turcotte was an incorruptible in an easily corrupted game.


This unimpeachable integrity may be Turcotte’s most defining and notable distinction.horses hello




I think everything else I have written about Life and horse racing is almost irrelevant compared to that last thought.



Unimpeachable integrity.




That is Life as it should be lived.


Enlightened Conflict