When life throws you a curve

At our human scale it’s easy believe in straight lines. High School geometry made things worse; Euclid’s imaginary geometric forms served to reinforce our illusion that Point A, Point B and Point C can be connected by a straight lines, like when we point a finger at the moon

We’ve extended our illusion of straight lines to reliance on cause and effect as well, as our litigious habit of finding fault so amply proves, despite the unfathomably branched and circuitous complexity of reality. Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

Here’s the not so simple truth: life throws you curves because that’s the nature of existence. Everything in the universe is constantly in motion, and there are no straight lines. From the smallest to the largest, all the things we can detect are in constant motion; no lines are straight, there are only infinite spirals within spirals.

At the sub-atomic level, physicists describe movement as the “quantum jitters,” an unceasing state of oscillation which appears as virtual “particles” popping in and out of existence. Where they come from and where they go, like socks in the dryer, is at present, unknown. Thus quantum particle “jitters” appear to form the very smallest spirals of all as they are carried along the arrow of time along with the matter they comprise: the physicists, planet earth, the solar system and the Milky Way galaxy itself. Like I said, spirals within spirals.

Buddhist monks of the Hwa Yen sect in 8th Century AD, China explored this very territory. Despite no accessibility to sophisticated technology, let alone Large Hadron Colliders, the humble monks of ancient China somehow determined that at its most subtle level, what we call matter spontaneously appears, disappears and interpenetrates other matter without obstruction. They called this “Shih” and attributed it to the underlying presence and constant expression of “Li”, the organizing principle of existence. They even anticipated the multi-dimensional, mathematical predictions of modern String Theory; some elements of matter, they conjectured, reside “curled up” within infinitely small hidden dimensions, influencing events in ways we cannot directly observe or detect. Quantum entanglement has been described by some theoretical physicists in precisely this way, non-local phenomenon invisibly linked within hidden, multi-dimensional space. This is where we live; welcome aboard, matey!

Making plans presupposes straight lines; point A connects to point B, and accordingly, specific outcomes are expected. This is linear thinking, but we exist in a non-linear universe. When unexpected things happen, we’re taken by surprise or even shocked. We call such moments chance, accident or luck, but that’s just another way of describing the spiraling curvature of events in time and space, a roiling soup 13.7 billion years in the making. If it’s helpful, think of yourself as a potato.

We appreciate the idea of peace, but our true nature is anything but still and peaceful. From the sub-atomic to the galactic, movement and action propel and create time itself. Black holes appear to consume all surrounding matter; massive galaxies collide; global climate shifts and on Highway 101 a 1997 Ford Ranger pickup backends a brand-new 2017 Toyota Camry LE while tied up in traffic. Chaos abounds. All and everything is happening at once, without exception.

You can waste time expecting perfect strikes, but this universe throws curves only.

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