Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Subjective Theory of Relativity

The other reason I haven't written much lately is because I've been getting ready for my big trip! I depart tomorrow for my month-long research trip to a Quaker study center, and I arrive on Thursday.

On the one hand, I have been unbelievably happy about this trip.

On the other hand, I can hardly believe I'm really doing this!

It seems both real and unreal. It seems both infinitely far away (both in space and time) and right there. The "wall" that makes it infinitely far away is shimmering and dissolving before my very eyes. Before I know it, "there" will be "here," and "here" will seem mythical and dreamlike and far away. And then when I return here again, everything will look different because I will be different, changed by the experience, and my whole sense of space and time will also have been changed by this adventure now being behind me instead of ahead of me.

We think that space and time are "objectively" real; we think we can subdivide them into intervals of equal lengths (that keep their lengths in a stable sort of way), but our lived experience of space and time is not really like that at all. Are space and time objectively real, or are they artifacts of our consciousness? Even science has challenged our usual conception of space and time. Einstein's theory of relativity shows that spatial and temporal measurements do not remain stable across all frameworks. Maybe I'll write up a "subjective theory of relativity" about the relativity of space and time in the lived experience of human consciousness.

There are times in one's life when a certain distance is impossible to cross; and other times when it suddenly melts away like nothing. I witness this transition, right now. Over the next few days, my current life will morph into something totally different.

Certain rituals and incantations will make this happen, involving saying the right words to the right person at the right time, resulting in magical gates opening before me, giving me access to special portals through space and time that will transport me to a new world -- a world that itself will magically be ready for my arrival when I appear. At the end of my journey, I will be taken to the room that will be my new home for a month.

The me of here and now looks across to the me of there and then with awe. Will I remember to look back once I get there? I think I do see that me waving happily and encouragingly!

And I just now have received word that my travel grant for this trip was approved! I took a leap of faith in deciding to do this anyway, and didn't think I would hear about the grant until halfway through my trip! I must say that I am very happy and relieved to receive this grant, both for financial reasons, and because of the affirmation of the value of my research! It means a lot to me that faculty at this non-Quaker college approve of my incorporating explicit Quaker research into my research plan! Way is opening! I sense that this trip is going to be very important for me and my research in ways I cannot yet fully imagine!

So, if all goes according to plan, my next posting will probably be from the U.K.


  1. Hey C.S.

    Would ya like to meet up whilst you're over here? (I'm in the UK.)

    Please email me - "publicquaker" is the first bit and "am464.net" after the AT sign - if you'd like to.

    God bless and safe travels!

  2. Alice,

    What a wonderful idea! Thank you! I will be in touch after I arrive in the U.K.!