fractured

Some ideas I’ve had

Sometimes I think a lot about ideas sometimes. Maybe some of these thoughts will be interesting. Maybe you won’t know what I’m talking about. Do you ever have random ideas that you don’t know what to do with?

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When I’ve had some spiritual questions and thoughts and doubts, I’ve often thought that spiritual knowledge functions differently than rational knowledge. I can’t prove spiritual things through being rational, and if I reject spirituality based on rationality, then I have to throw out spirituality in general. The best way to seek spiritual knowledge is to ask God and to trust that answer.

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Null hypotheses are sort of how we operate in life in general. We assume something to be true, and then we have to find enough evidence to convince ourselves we are wrong. We usually don’t set out to learn something; we set out to prove something. But sometimes we are wrong and need to reject the null.

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So utilitarianism tries to maximize happiness, but you could have an ethical system that maximizes something else, like freedom or justice or something like that. And you could also have an ethical system were you could maximize ethics–so if a choice maximizes good choices, that would also be a good choice.

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Money is really only an incentive for the utility it brings us right now instead of the utility it will bring us later. We save because of the security it brings us now. We say we save for the future, but we are really just saving for the future we are imagining in our own head, not the actual future that is unknown.

essay

Change

We were putting on our masks to go to the grocery store. As we went to check out, we waited as the cashier sprayed down the register. Things are different now.

I remembered how 9-11 changed how you fly on an airplane, and I thought that maybe certain things will always be a little different now. Maybe we will disinfect things a lot more often. Or wearing face masks will be more common. Maybe people will stay home more when they get sick. Perhaps in 20 years, things that seem weird now will be common and people won’t think about it much.

We adapt to change so quickly sometimes that we forget that the change ever happened.

Do you know that bananas used to be different? We had a certain variety of banana that everyone ate, and then it all died, and now we have different bananas.

Kodak wanted to be the best filmmaker around, but then digital photography came along and Kodak basically went out of business.

We used to call and talk to people on the telephone. Now I connect to people in a myriad of ways, usually with my phone. Phones used to be things you used to call people. Now phones do everything. I can do calculus on my phone.

Statistics used to be doing calculations and now it’s basically learning how to use coding to manipulate data.

I used to live in a small town when I grew up; now that town is huge and all the traffic patterns are different.

Our lives are always changing. And it’s okay. Change can be good or bad or neutral, but things always change.

Except for the few things that stay the same: ancient trees, rocks, mountains, religion.

And the nature of life sort of just stays the same. We are born, we live, we struggle, we die. With all of the changes that happen, our struggles and our joys have always been the same–we strive to do the right thing, to help each other, and we make mistakes and we fight, and we seek meaning and purpose and happiness. We increase in knowledge and then make stupid mistakes anyways.

Things have been changing. And yet, so much has stayed the same. I am still here, and in a shifting landscape, I find that the most important things are still here with me.

poem

A poem for Sunday

Blossoms bloom.
Petals unfurl towards sunlight.
I rarely notice until
they are almost gone.

Sometimes, I find the blooms
sailing down to the water,
floating and then washed away.

Everything right in the world,
because temporary blossoms
keep coming back.
Their demise
brings fruit and that fruit
brings more blossoms—
years passing into lifetimes.

Blossoms floating in water

inspiration

A positive future

  • Instead of worrying about what bad thing might happen, we can rejoice in what good things will happen.
  • When we try to make positive changes, it works. We improve the world daily.
  • For every worst-case scenario, there is also a best-case scenario.
  • Nothing can grow exponentially forever. Growth levels off.
  • We have had so many innovations, development, and major advances in the world in the last few decades.
  • We notice the negative so that we can fix it. But then when we fix it, we don’t notice anymore.
  • People do good things all on their own all the time. People are a force for good.
  • We can’t predict the future–but we can choose to make our future better.
  • Over the history of the entire world, things always get better in the long-term.
  • There is humor and goodness in every hard situation.

It can be really easy to get discouraged right now. But there is so much good happening. We will get through this time, and we will probably be better off at the end of it.

Sometimes I am reading a book or watching a movie and I want to make sure that everything will work out all right in the end of it. When it’s a TV show, I often know that things will work out because there is another episode. But isn’t that life? There is always another episode, which means that we continue on and we don’t have to be afraid of an unpleasant ending.

inspiration

sorrow and joy

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place. -Rumi

There have been times when I rejected sorrow, wishing for a happy and easy life. I did not want to feel sad. I did not want to struggle.

I would pray seeking relief. I would pray that everything could just change and everything would become better all at once. And while there have been many times when I have been delivered, I find myself profoundly grateful for my sorrow as well.

In hard times, I have not looked to the gospel to save me from those times, but to save me through those times. The gospel gave me continual hope and guidance–I could not see the end, but I could hope in each next step. I have built my faith because of difficult times.

Miracles happen. And miracles happen not because everything is easy, but because they are hard.

fractured

words headline lead sentence paragraph

search

make sense of jumbled pieces

words to fit the world together

google facebook new york times

trying to get past paywalls

what is happening

what will happen

millions of answers

no answer

sleeping searching

wake and shut it down.

words don’t exist

noise recedes

the pounding of needing to know fades

left with quiet

stillness

calm

find when I stop searching

essay

Acceptance

A lot of people are feeling panicked and afraid and stressed out. This is a rough time. But things will go back to normal. They always do.

I have been trying to find good information about COVID-19, but here is one things I’ve learned: we have not had enough time to come up with the right data to make completely accurate models. Things may be better than we think, but I sincerely doubt that they could be worse than worse-case scenarios.

We aren’t sure what to do because we don’t have all the data right. We can’t tell the future and so we don’t quite know how to prepare for it. The leaders of our cities and states and country are trying to figure out how to minimize negative impacts. But no matter what they do, there will be negative impacts. The tradeoffs are not great right now.

I fully support social distancing, but we don’t need to overreact and panic. I am hopeful that when the data becomes more and more accurate, it will be better than we think. We do not need to shut ourselves in our houses in fear, but we can wash our hands, keep our distance, and prepare our healthcare system.

This is a tragedy. These are hard times, and I don’t want to ignore the difficult time people are having. But bad things always happen. We had deaths from heart disease, cancer, the flu, car accidents, drug overdoses. We are working on all of those problems. People get sick. It sucks. We have a hard time understanding the scale of any tragedy and there is not a great way to put it into perspective.

With this pandemic, we just have too much information in the wrong places, leading to too much fear and confusion. We have to trust in experts, let them do their job, and make the best out of what we have. We don’t need to be afraid, but we can be prepared.

We cannot avoid every bad effect anymore. We are going to have major consequences in health and economics. People will die, and it is incredibly sad and hard. But acceptance of the tragedy can help us be more rational in figuring out how to lessen the worst effects without being so afraid that we overreact and create more harm than we have to. Worry and fear can be a useful catalyst for action, but actions need to be kept within rational and sensible bounds.

I am grateful for epidemiologist who are trying to come up with more and more accurate models. For economists who are studying economic impacts. I am grateful for imperfect yet helpful policies that will help keep us going.

I have faith. I have faith that we can come out of this better than we will be before. This is not a catastrophe. This is not the end of the world. This is hard and it’s terrible, but we move forward like we always do.

I have been very worried and stress, but my mind feels a lot more clear now. Accepting that a hard thing is happening helps us move forward and make the best of it. We can’t eliminate this from our lives. But we can keep moving forward and doing the best we can.

Things I am hoping for right now:

*People be rational and make the right decisions to minimize the loss and negative effects of this pandemic.
*That we can find appropriate treatments that shorten hospital stays and reduce severity of the disease.
*The death rate starts getting lower and lower.
*Increase testing ability and more equipment for health care.
*That there are more asymptomatic people than we realize and we will be able to achieve herd immunity.
*For a quick economic recovery–where people can get their jobs back quickly and businesses can find capital to keep going and that the recovery bill does it’s job in providing more expansive unemployment and that when we do open things up and get going again, we have minimized the reduction of GDP and long-term unemployment.
*And that there will be an end of this and life will go back to normal, except for it will be a better normal because we have learned and grown from this experience.

Please don’t be angry and afraid. Just keep trying,

fractured, inspiration

There is always light

Over the past few days, I have read article after article, trying to figure out how we can go back to normal. I read about different possibilities of what might happen and I want to know how this end. But we don’t go back to normal–we find a a new normal instead, something that we can’t wrap our minds around right now.

If we are always thinking about and looking to the the future, we can miss the good that is happening now. Yesterday, I did a video chat with all of my family members. I watched my kids as they played outside for ages. I watched a video of quarantined people in Italy making music on balconies. 

I realized that I don’t have to hope for a better future.

I can have hope for now.

If worst-case-scenario happens and it’s awful, you can tell your children you love them. You can serve in small ways. Worst-case-scenario will never be without hope and happiness somewhere.

There is no hole so deep and there is so circumstance that is too bleak that light cannot enter in some way.

No matter how hard life is, there is still good. Good is infinite and it never ends. Right in each moment, there is something good you can do. In despair, you can do something.

You don’t need to pause your life and wait for things to work out. You can live for now.

As long as you keep creating and loving, you can keep living.

No matter what is happening in life, you have the ability to create something. You have the ability to connect. You have the ability to help.

Music and art and words and laughter and growth and friendship are always there. That is where hope is.

The essence of our lives is not the convenience, but the innovation and the creativity.

If you want joy, create. Draw. Sing. Write. Make something. And then share it. Connect. And that creating and connecting can never go away.

The world won’t end. Because the best parts of life, family and people and learning and growing and being, those best parts can never, ever be taken away from us.

Take hope not in the end of trial, but in that fact that no matter the difficult circumstances, you can wake up, greet the sunrise, and live beautifully right in that moment.

inspiration

Hope

Things are rough right now. Pandemics and earthquakes and economic uncertainty. We are looking at a recession and a health crisis and we are all stuck at home, isolated from normal life. I’ve been checking the news constantly, though I’m not sure what I am looking for–some way to understand this? Some morsel of hope that this will end and life can go back to normal?

But it will end. We will recover. That’s what people do. We pick themselves up and we keep going.

There is hope. So much hope. I have been reading some books about when times were harder than they are now–times in war and famine; times where disease was rampant and healthcare was almost nonexistent and children and parents died. We have learned so much since then–we have learned how to treat and prevent disease, how to stabilize an economy, and how to build better infrastructure.

Let’s not feel entitled to our comforts and our easy way of living. We are accustomed to good health and to readily available care. Our large, warm homes protect us with readily available food and supplies in abundance. We are used to continual growth and innovation and prosperity. And those things haven’t gone away.

We are resilient. The hard things in life do not derail us from the love and hope and charity that abound in the world. The hard things are a catalyst to strengthen all that is good. We can remember everything that we have and to be extraordinarily grateful.

While so many things are shut down, we have the internet that allows us to continue on in remarkable ways. We can still see each other and talk to each other. Our schools and work can transition to our computers and phones. With our technology, we can order basically anything we want to buy and stay updated with the latest news and find stories of people helping and serving others. And we can listen to messages of hope.

It’s a time for a different type of growth. We can learn humility, preparedness, self-reliance, unity, and connection with our families. And we can feel hope and peace that the Lord’s hand is in our life in the small details.

My Grandma Walker passed away two days ago. But she saw the good things in the world. I remember her smiling often. She was so grateful for other people. She trusted in God’s love for her. When she was young, her family would be running out of food and she would go down to the cellar and always find something more. As a teacher throughout her life, she shared her faith in others. Miracles were not the exception; miracles were how the Lord worked and she saw them often in her life.

Grandma Walker

I have hope this morning, even though it is Wednesday and I usually hate Wednesdays. It can be a good Wednesday because I am grateful for my family, for this world, for the chance to write this, and for happiness and joy that will always return and persist through any difficult time.

essay

Solutions and Decisions

Everyone faces difficult questions. Moms ask: Should I stay at home with my kids? Should I go to work? What is best for my kids? What is best for me? How do I take care of my children and my finances and my mental health? Is it selfish to have ambitions? Is it okay to focus on myself? Is it better to focus on other people?  Are public schools right for my kids? What about charter schools? What about online classes? What about private school? Should I homeschool? Should I move? Should we change jobs? Should we change careers? Should we go to school or not?

If you are in a different situation, you are asking different questions, but they have the same weight. Everyone is asking those sorts of questions all the time.

Sometimes we need to answer the questions and figure something out. But sometimes we are asking the wrong question. 

Sometimes I feel like I need to answer a question right away and figure it out. But then I just feel frustrated. I think that if I come up with an answer and I solve it, that everything will be right. And then when there isn’t a solution, I keep trying and trying to make something work. 

But often, I don’t need to ask those questions in the first place. A solution can come slowly, if I am patient. Or there may not be a solution. 

Sometimes life is not an equation with a variable that you can figure out. Life is a lot more messy than that, with approximations and confusion and imperfection. 

We often try to fix things, but in our effort to fix it, we lose the nuance and imperfection and chaos and beauty. 

We can throw away the needless guilt. We can throw away the thought that if we somehow tried a lot harder, everything would fall into place. We can stop pretending that we are able to take care of everything and everyone all at once. Because that isn’t going to happen. There are tradeoffs.

So instead of trying to solve life like a math equation, just do the best you can in the messy chaos. 

This applies to everything in life. We want solutions. We want to fix things. But politics and housing prices and healthcare and viruses don’t have one easy solution. Things are complicated. There is usually not one solution that works great for everyone.

Except loving other people. And prayer. And gratitude. 

Come to think of it, being grateful for what we have is a good way to start solving things in the right way.