Jack: A Journey
One particular day when bombs began falling out of the sky, Jack ran with his father, mother, one sister and his middle brother across the stony ground. Shirley fell, her knee folding under her and her face skidding along the stones. His father stood her up, pushed her along with incredible haste despite her severe limp. Jack slowed, but his father waved him on, and his eight-year-old frame bounded ahead of his family. At first the thump of his feet seemed louder, and more regular, than the bombs landing on the other side of the city.
Then a cluster of concussions left both him and the ground trembling. Layers of mountain air shredded with machine gun rounds wooshing from somewhere on the horizon past him into the earth and trees and humans still running or huddled. Soon enough, Jack watched bodies settling into stillness on the chaotic ground, the people somehow going away while moving no more.
From the introduction:
A Note on the Philosophy
A few words might help explain why this examination of a life drops so deeply into a discussion of spirituality.
Spirituality for me is like journeying from my center toward what I anticipate will be an overriding understanding. To classify everything from my own human range of day-to-day impressions is to miss much. On the one hand, there are an estimated 250 billion galaxies. On the other hand, about a million ions per second flow through gates on my cell membranes whenever my muscles are getting signals to contract. In one of my heartbeats, which occur at one second intervals, an electron circles its proton one quintillion times--that's a thousand quadrillion times, or a million million million times--repeated again in the next heartbeat. And that's (60 x 60 x 24 x 364 x 80) roughly 2 billion 520 million heartbeats, so far, multiplied by one quintillion orbits of each electron in there. It takes more than my rational mind to get any feel for this.
I’ve spent most of my adult life putting off any rounded-out spiritual view of things, accepting instead tendencies, possibilities. I see this generally as a healthy, open-minded way of eventually finding whatever answers are out there. But I also recognize I am holding back, awaiting evidence. And what is evidence? I would argue that acceptable evidence is rigorous scientific investigation leading to incontrovertible conclusions, tested over time and accepted by others active in the field of study.
But really I accept on a kind of faith informed by my tendencies. When a friend offered the scenario that luck might be “scientifically proven” to exist, I recognized that I would in such a case never follow the rigorous scientific investigation leading to incontrovertible conclusions, tested over time. I would look at a summary of the evidence and believe it or not based on a more personal standard that involves aspects of my being, some of which are enigmas even to me.
Rationality itself is a sentiment, a way of seeing. Materialism is a belief that everything is derived from matter, which is seen today as composed of tangibles operating in force fields. It's a serious religion for many educated people, a church where I've worshiped. But, as William James points out: “Hardly a law has been established in science, hardly a fact ascertained, which was not first sought after, often with sweat and blood, to gratify an inner need. Whence such needs come from we do not know: we find them in us …” (Will to Believe, p 55)
We are in constant contact with the universe, with its entire history. Globes of fire are reaching even now across millennia to touch our eyes with pinpoints of light. I’m seeing there over my head early days of the universe. I know this from the gift of scientific exploration. This particular blend of intense investigation, rigorous standards, measurement, human perspective and belief has given me unimaginable knowledge of a certain kind about my own circumstances inside and out. What I make of it all is influenced, though, by poets and musicians, by intuition when I find it.
In telling Jack’s real story, I’ve created characters who give this some personal attention, with the fits and starts one might expect. It’s a journey.
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