Sunday, September 16, 2012
The mountains are calling and I must go
For me, spending time in the mountains is not a luxury, it is a necessity. It's important to feel unimportant, to let some air out of the ego.
I've written about this before but I think it's worth repeating: the view from the top of a mountain not just stunningly beautiful, it's also philosophically important. To stand on top of a mountain and see nothing but mountains beyond mountains all the way to the horizon is a humbling experience. You can't help but surrender yourself to the realization that you are nothing more than an insignificant speck on a tiny planet in a vast universe whose mysteries we know very little about.
This is not a bleak, cold or empty view on life. To me, surrendering to the mysteries of the universe is more fulfilling than subscribing to a religious story that claims to have all the answers. Certainty is absurd. Why not revel in uncertainty?
There is nothing more fascinating than life on earth. Our planet is the only place in the known universe where life exists, which is an amazing thing when you consider how big the universe really is. Our planet is just one of eight in orbit around our sun, which itself is only one of about 200 billion stars in our galaxy. But even our galaxy is just one of 100 billion galaxies, all joined together in an enormous web stretching out in all directions.
It's a waste to reduce all of this to a religious story and then fight over whose version of the story is better. Why can't we just marvel in the evolutionary perfection of life without ascribing some greater meaning to it?
I didn't intend for this post to go this way (I was actually going to write a straight-up post about our hiking trip in the Swiss Alps. Where we went and what it was like and all of that). It's just that everything seemed so simple in the mountains and so unnecessarily complicated back in Bonn.
We got back from the Alps the day violent protests over the anti-Islam film were making headlines. The whole thing struck me as being absurd. It boggles the mind on so many different levels. I watched the trailer on YouTube to see what the fuss was all about. And I just don't get it. The film is such an incoherent, idiotic, embarrassingly bad, low-budget mess (the whole thing looks like it was filmed in front of a green screen) that it's hard to believe anyone could take it seriously. It's not even worth responding to, let alone getting up in arms about it.
What's wrong with us? And by "us" I mean "us as a species." Why are we still whipping ourselves into a frenzy over such petty, tribal divisions? Why can't we just accept that we don't have all of the answers and that none of us have exclusive access to the truth?