Friday, February 5, 2010

Tenacious D and the Joy of Life

So, for anyone keeping track (are you there Mom?) I did indeed submit my application for grad school and have only now to wait. I am so sick with anticipation-slash-anxiety that I wish I could sleep for the next month and a half until the answer arrives.

I consider my chances of acceptance to be about 50-50 (either it could happen or it could not happen, right? For those who don’t have the time, just watch between 2:35 and 3:30 of this video. It’s worth it.)

I have already begun start thinking of back up plans. Perhaps I should make a go of freelancing as I am? Perhaps I should go to Haiti and volunteer in the rebuilding efforts for a year? What I really enjoy is reading, hiking and eating; any way I could finance myself next year doing that?

Shall I reapply for the following year? It was only on the third application that Fermilab accepted me as a science writing intern. For this determination a friend sweetly dubbed me ‘Tenacious D,’ an appellation I’ve held to me heart as a compliment ever since. An editor at Fermilab told me I held one of the most productive, successful internships in several years, so I may not completely be a lost cause even if I don’t get what I want at first.

On to the joy of life

Now, in other and possibly more important news, let me tell you about my musings over dinner last night.

Could it be that the point of life is enjoyable eating?

Let’s examine this from a couple perspectives. A biologist will tell you that the purpose of life is to reproduce and see your genes continued past your life in to the next generation. But for what? So that these life forms will feed and nourish themselves and pass your (and now their) genes on to the generation after that.

A spiritual person will tell you that the point of life is to cultivate devotion. To what end? So that you enjoy divine approval as you embody Ecclesiastes 3:12-13:
“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.”
A person focused on nutrition and fitness might say that enjoying your healthy body is the point. But for what? To feel great throughout your long life while eating. A person who can extend their lifespan by 15 years through a healthy lifestyle gets to enjoy an extra 16,425 meals. 16,434 if those years include leap years.

Once I was done with my near-rapturous dinner of steak with pepper, shallot, estragon and Cabernet Sauvignon sauce, seared red cabbage and a glass of said excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, finished with a ramekin of lemon sorbet, vodka and red berries, I did return to earth. Having let the food intoxication pass, I think a satisfying life is built from a balance of intellectual-artistic (same thing really), physical and soulful pleasures.

On this note, I highly recommend affording yourself the 18 minutes to view Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on nurturing creativity given at a 2009 TED conference. It is brilliant, humanistic and hilarious. Hearing her thoughts on genius and the process of creating art was possibly the most satisfying experience of my week – though dinner last night makes a very close second.

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