It’s been six weeks since I’ve posted. I didn’t intend it to be that way. I had a calendar and numerous draft posts started. Then in the beginning of December, I entered an unanticipated time of soul searching. I didn’t write a word for the rest of December.
I knew I had lost my love for what I was doing. I had spent 2016 reading books, blogs and watching online seminars about writing. At least that’s what my original purpose was. Somewhere along the way, unrecognized by me, I shifted to researching entrepreneur and small business. I got bogged down in a self-hosted website and tons of backend gobbly-gook I didn’t understand or enjoy learning.
The experts supplied me with templates and schedules. In the beginning, the left side of my brain was in heaven. Soon I was making charts, schedules and learning new programs which left little time for writing. But then it turned into a chore.
As I looked back at 2016 I had succeeded in meeting all the goals I had set. But, I was anxious and overwhelmed with all the daily not-writing stuff I was doing.
As 2017’s sun began to peak on the horizon I hesitated to begin my new lists of goals. Instead, I began to sense a need to be still. For Christmas, I received two different adult coloring books from two different people with the same title, “Be Still”. That was an ah-ha moment for me.
“Be Still and Know that I am God” Ps. 46:11
I chose Ps. 46:11 as my verse for this year. As I prayed and asked God what gift He would like for Christmas I settled on sweet surrender. Here is the card I wrote to Jesus.
Living in stillness and surrender has been an 180-degree turn for me. Instead of yearly goals, quarterly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals – broken down to hour by hour, I’m living in the present. In this moment – because that’s where joy is, right? The past is a memory and the future is a dream.
Now, my previous zero inbox is overflowing, you will find clutter in corners of my house, and the dishes may or may not be in the sink.
My goals for this week? Live Thankfully. Play. Laugh. Trust.
My verse for this week? Matt. 11:28-29 Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…
I’ve been writing most of January. Just not words for the world to see yet. I want you to see the authentic me. Yet, I worry too much about how you will interpret my words. Are you judging me? Are you reading too much into what I say?
A writer friend of mine says she posts what she wants when she wants. That flies in the face of all the indoctrination I’ve absorbed over the last year. I need to have a narrow topic and stick to that topic. I need to use a template. I need to only show the world what is clean, neat and concise.
But in all those rules, I lost my soul. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing book reviews and I get crazy excited when I learn something new about God. I just long for the freedom to share some of the messy side of me. To free write or try my hand at poetry and fiction. To write on whatever day of the week I want to – and not be defined by a list of self-made rules.
I am reading, “Surely You are Joking, Mr. Feynman.” Dr. Feynman is a brilliant and humorous physicist who among other things worked on the first atomic bomb and won a Nobel Prize. As I’ve chewed up and digested the below quote, it changed me.
Then I had another thought: Physics disgusts me a little bit now, but I used to enjoy doing physics. Why did I enjoy it? I used to play with it. I used to do whatever I felt like doing – it didn’t have to do with whether it was important for the development of nuclear physics, but whether it was interesting and amusing for me to play with. When I was in high school, I’d see water running out of a faucet growing narrower, and wonder if I could figure out what determines that curve. I found it was rather easy to do. I didn’t have to do it; it wasn’t important for the future of science; somebody else had already done it. That didn’t make any difference. I’d invent things and play with things for my own entertainment.
So I got this new attitude. Now that I am burned out and I’ll never accomplish anything, I’ve got this nice position at the university teaching classes which I rather enjoy, and just like I read the Arabian Nights for pleasure, I’m going to play with physics, whenever I want to, without worrying about any importance whatsoever.
Within a week I was in the cafeteria and some guy, fooling around, throws a plate in the air. As the plate went up in the air I saw it wobble, and I noticed the red medallion of Cornell on the plate going around. It was pretty obvious to me that the medallion went around faster than the wobbling.
I had nothing to do, so I start to figure out the motion of the rotating plate. I discover that when the angle is very slight, the medallion rotates twice as fast as the wobble rate – two to one [Note: Feynman mis-remembers here—the factor of 2 is the other way]. It came out of a complicated equation! Then I thought, “Is there some way I can see in a more fundamental way, by looking at the forces or the dynamics, why it’s two to one?”
I don’t remember how I did it, but I ultimately worked out what the motion of the mass particles is, and how all the accelerations balance to make it come out two to one.
I still remember going to Hans Bethe and saying, “Hey, Hans! I noticed something interesting. Here the plate goes around so, and the reason it’s two to one is …” and I showed him the accelerations.
He says, “Feynman, that’s pretty interesting, but what’s the importance of it? Why are you doing it?”
“Hah!” I say. “There’s no importance whatsoever. I’m just doing it for the fun of it.” His reaction didn’t discourage me; I had made up my mind I was going to enjoy physics and do whatever I liked.
I went on to work out equations of wobbles. Then I thought about how electron orbits start to move in relativity. Then there’s the Dirac Equation in electrodynamics. And then quantum electrodynamics. And before I knew it (it was a very short time) I was “playing” – working, really – with the same old problem that I loved so much, that I had stopped working on when I went to Los Alamos: my thesis-type problems; all those old-fashioned, wonderful things.
It was effortless. It was easy to play with these things. It was like uncorking a bottle: Everything flowed out effortlessly. I almost tried to resist it! There was no importance to what I was doing, but ultimately there was. The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.
So, here I am. Me to you. Today I am ready to write. Today I am ready to be me. I’m learning to play and have fun on social media. I’m learning to take selfies and I even found a record video button…
I don’t know what 2017 will bring. If you can’t find me, look for me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. If I’m not there – don’t worry. I’m probably sitting in the closet learning to be still and pondering the reality that I am not god – God is God.
Oh, and one more thing. Can you do me a favor? If you see anything on my website that isn’t right (slow, errors, etc.) -would you let me know? If you don’t tell me, I might not know or figure it out for a long time. Thanks!