Column: Outside the (what?) box

However, sometimes my thinking leads to fascinating discoveries. Do you realize that the same molecules of air we breathe, and molecules of water in the rain, or in the water we drink could have coursed through the lungs and veins of Julius Caesar? Or the dinosaurs? Or a whale named Moby Dick? Most of the air and water on earth have existed since time immemorial – very little new water and air continues to be produced; we have fossil water and fossil air.

One of my first real insights into the way my mind may be different from others was from the phrase, “thinking outside the box.” “Outside the box?” What box? For me, there is no box, no boundaries on where my thoughts may go. It is very exciting, and a little scary in an exciting way. I am not aware of any limits, and I feel very free, and a little sorry for other people who may be missing out on this.

Strangely enough, in literature or in film, I cannot appreciate the genres of horror, fantasy, or science fiction and I avoid them. I prefer mysteries, historical fiction, memoirs - genres pretty well grounded in reality; that is, exploring the problems involved in living, loving, leaving, and dying, the human condition as it were. My reaction to more than mild intoxication from alcohol (or drugs) can be stated as, “for me, reality is challenging enough without distorting it.”

Exploring reality can be mind blowing; the possibilities are infinite, without bounds. One can become equally lost in thought going to the minute levels, or to the cosmic level. I try to imagine infinity, but I cannot; what is beyond outer space? Beyond the cosmos? Nothing? But what is the nothing, and beyond the nothing?

Two individuals have had an impact on my thinking about our environment. One of them was “Prof. Charley.” Charley was Belgian born, a uniqueness all in itself, certainly the first Belgian living in the U.S. that I had met. He made a lasting impression on me. Charlie was one of the individuals who worked on Onondaga County’s land fill problems in the 1970s and 80s. For years on end, county residents heard constant “discussion” about the GBSP – garbage burning steam plant, and it landed in Charley’s lap. Charley said to me, “People talk about ‘throwing things away.’ Where is ‘away?’ There is no such thing, no such place, as ‘away.’”

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