Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Relativity

It's interesting how as I settle into "busy season", I get into more of a rhythm in general. There's something to be said for structure, even if I generally prefer working outside of it.

With that deep thought, I still would rather it be summer (like it clearly is for our wonderful photog Down Under) and have that thing students like to call "vacation". Meanwhile, a friend came to visit iPay and myself at work tonight and noted to a friend on the phone that "vacation was way too short - just a week!" For someone who gets 16 days in a calendar year, most of which go to holidays, a week off [let alone summer!] sounds like a Godsend.

The title of this post is relativity as it's always fascinated me how seemingly everything has the meaning it does only in relation to something else. There's that which we take for granted, that which we feel is important due to how rare or how large or how hard it seems... etc. And of course, this is often the case. Relativity is often what makes things matter. At the same time, it's worth taking each part of life on its own once in a while and appreciating it for itself. A co-worker today passed along a powerpoint about the seven wonders of the world that I particularly enjoyed. I couldn't find the presentation online, but the 'story' is here along with some of the pictures. As is often the case, a child is the one to remind us what we're missing.

And some of us are missing more than ideas. While it's getting further and further away, Elie still misses his son Aaron. He's right - none of us can truly relate, and hopefully we never will. But it's a reminder to appreciate whom we do have around us: Children, spouses, family, friends. A Simple Jew was reminded of this when he received a phone call from the Sudilkover Rebbe while he played with his child on a day off... and the Rebbe, upon hearing what he was doing, told him to call him back another evening. The children come first.

Reminders like this don't just apply to people, but to other facets of our lives as well. From inspiration to simple day-to-day living, it's important to recognize and recall why we do what we do and what we so enjoy about certain parts of our lives. Ron Coleman has a wonderful post about his frustrations with writing and writing to no avail... then experiencing that which he was trying to bring to others and recalling what was so energizing about it.

Finally, there are those who might mistake the concept of relativity with measuring themselves against others. While one can easily mention countless ways in which the two are dissimilar, or in which the person at hand has accomplished so much that the other could not have, or how the spouse could not have accomplished without the person at hand, and all of those would be excellent points, I think a wise friend said it best so simply:
You can't spend your life comparing yourself to others. Everyone has a unique purpose in this world--some will impact society at large, some will impact their communities, some will impact just close family and friends. The important thing is to feel that you are fulfilling your role to the best of your ability.
I think that this, too, should be done without too much focus on where one is relative to where they "could be" - that is a useful tool, but can (as with everything) be overdone as well. It is important to simply recognize where one is at, how to utilize their skills in the current situation, and how to grow and improve and accomplish more - which does not require change necessarily, but simply working on that which is already there.

One last interesting note about impacts that I was thinking about a couple of days ago as I thought about the last post I mentioned above. It is interesting to study the variance in reach of different impacts. Oftentimes, a large impact will happen, followed by a small impact, then a smaller one, and so on until it dies out. Think of a crater dropping into a pond - it makes a huge impact upon splashdown, followed by a few ripples, followed by some smaller ripples... before finally fizzling out. Meanwhile, the small impact a person has is often internalized far better than the message of a speaker or pundit. That person then impacts greater and greater circles as their points and ideas are passed around; think of the butterfly effect we all have every day. It seems interesting how the 'big' ideas seem to quickly turn to 'small' or 'no' impact, while the little day-to-day impacts only grow exponentially.

And with that thought, have a wonderful night and day!

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