Destiny by Ted Scott

                                                                                                                                   That’s a dirty word to a physicist. We don’t believe in destiny, except on the largest scales. We think that the sun will enter a red giant phase in about five billion years. We believe we’ll still see the same constellations in about the same place in the sky a year from now. We know just when the sun will rise tomorrow. But we don’t know when the next war will break out or when someone will die. We don’t even know who will be sleeping with who, in a month or a week. There’s a lot we don’t know and we can’t predict.

Destiny is a faith that somehow we can know what to expect. It’s not based on logic and data. It’s superstition, built on hope and desire. To a physicist it’s not theory or truth. It’s just a myth or a wish. For those of us who think about it more than we should, it’s an addiction, akin to pornography.

As humans, our minds are full of thought. We see where we are. We wonder what’s next. We look at options and choices. We wonder where each one might lead. Then we create a story for each, and we think of where we might be, in a week, or a year, or a decade. We imagine the stories to span the frothy sea of uncertainty to that place where we might want to be. We compare the price of the tolls to the rewards of the journey. Sometimes we make a choice, and sometimes we just sit back in the chair, and wait for it to take us somewhere.

We all like to listen to stories of heroes, like Joseph Campbell would tell. Heroes are born in unusual circumstances. Prophecies precede or follow. Symbolic events occur. Then follows a trail of destiny. Believers in destiny look for these kinds of things. That’s how they know what to follow. That’s how they know they’re on to something. But as physicists, we know that’s not for us. We are the party of Chaos and Doubt. We’re not supposed to believe in such things; after all, we’ve got that uncertainty principle.

As a backslider in the faith of Chaos and Doubt, I sometimes think about destiny. I think about the single photon emitted from an atom of a galaxy made up of a hundred billion stars located ten billion light years away. It spreads out in a feeble giant wave that gets to our Hubble and dumps all its energy in a single cell of a silicon detector; a connection between cause and effect, between two atoms sixty billion trillion miles and ten billion years apart. What an amazing event! With events such as this, Hubble collects enough light to make images, which become the beautiful pictures that we use to create the stories we tell, to satisfy our unquenchable need to know.

This morning just halfway between the Vernal Equinox and Good Friday, a tiny new baby was born. Though many were born then, only this one came with a message for me. His first name was Forest, as in Forest Gump, but his last name will be Scott, and soon I’ll hold him and whisper his name, and we’ll bond, and I’ll think about destiny, and I’ll wonder. What if there is a destiny? Why did my daughter set out on that search for that thing she must have? Why did she need to adopt a third, with two so healthy and fine? What led to that moment of passion between the birth mother and a man that none of us know? Not a virgin birth, but unusual just the same. Could this be marking the start, of some tale of a hero, on some kind of trail of destiny?

I’ll mark this unlikely photon, and save it with others I’ve known. Maybe by my last days, I’ll be able to make them into a picture that will give me a story to tell.

Advertisements

Why Did the Phone Ring? by Janet Keyes

     Let me say this at the outset- I got a cell phone only for my own safety and convenience. It leaves the house with me only if I go outside alone in the wintertime when I might possibly slip on ice and fall, and when I will be driving out of town alone. To assist in keeping my phone for my own convenience, I have given the number only to my husband and my three children. My three children’s spouses do not have my number, nor do my three grandchildren. It seldom rings.

     Generally I am conscientious about plugging the phone in regularly for recharging. I do know that a dead battery leaves the phone useless. With all my precautions in place, I felt confident that my phone would be used only by me for outgoing calls in proper emergencies. I suppose the enormity of my naiveté should not surprise anyone of my own generation, and will probably elicit pitying chuckles from other generations.

     When I first had the cell phone, I was dismayed when it rang. Continue reading

Mum’s Ruby Ring by Noreen O’Brien

I was about twelve years old and in seventh grade at Northeastern Junior High School when Mum had her ruby ring repaired for me. As I recall, she was given this ring by her parents when she was about the age of twelve.

The ruby, an oval shaped stone, is set in a pretty set of raised prongs atop a yellow gold band. I loved it because it was Mum’s first and then handed down to me, and for the ruby red coloring, but mostly because of its regal setting—it looked as if it should be on the finger of royalty.

I loved wearing that ring, and would sit at my school desk, pose my hand in a variety of positions and switch between first left, then right hand, in order to find the best possible angle to show it off. Sometimes I would stand a purse-sized mirror on my school desk or bedroom vanity for more of an “outsider” view of how the ring looked on my finger. I felt so grow up! Continue reading

Ten Years Old and Counting by Estelle Cade

When I was ten years old we were living in Whitman MA. I remember my parents driving us down the street to show my sister and me our new school. It was the Pleasant  Street  School, grades one through six ( I don’t think there was a kindergarten class there), and our house was at the other end of Pleasant Street. Up to this point a city kid, I looked at this new school in horror and exclaimed, “How can I learn anything in a wooden school?” Continue reading

Bubble Gum Explosions by Noreen O’Brien

Bubble gum—Bazooka Bubble Gum. The hours and hours of practice put into blowing giant, head-sized bubbles; the gum would be long past the point of being pink, much less containing flavor.

Kathy, Mary, Louise and I, sitting out on the front stoop, usually mine or Kathy’s, chewing, snapping—disgusting noises, really—poking our individual tongues through our individually chewed gum, blowing into the gum, rather than through an open mouth. Sometimes the bubble would pop early on, small, worthless; but sometimes, I swear it took long minutes of carefully calculated huffs and puffs around our tongues and into that gum. Bigger, bigger, bigger, then POP!, a bubble big enough to cover the entire front of our head, across nose, eyes, forehead and into our hair, ultimately exploding into a mass of sticky mess and guffaws of silly giggling and laughter. Continue reading

Opening Day Thoughts by Marty Glaser

I woke up at one thirty in the morning, and rather than bother Lenore, I went into David’s old room and started writing. I wrote three poems that would be read for me at the TOPS meeting at the Mill House on Wednesday morning. I would honor three TOPS members who lost weight and qualified for State Division weight loss recognition. Continue reading

An Easy Kind of Day by Alice Thomas

 

Water thrums against my craft

Reminds me of its deep voice

That’s like no other-

Splashing. Battering. Booming.

And this I’ve remembered for over forty years

Yet it still echoes across my bow

Smells like weeds rolled in sand

With fish-guts iridescent in the foam.

Meanwhile, my Shakespeare (rod and reel)

Scrapes against the bench its filament

Tangled in the troller, risen above the wake

And 4 o’clock seems to have quietly crept in

Sculling across my thoughts, as I check the sun’s coordinates

And now, the time of bloody fire has come

Aglow in a red-orange rage– arching behind the oaks

Screeching its tumble right down to course’s end

Time Was Not Our Friend by Janet Keyes

I tried to think of an occasion when time got away from us. Maybe we are the only people who never experienced that, or perhaps we never felt embarrassed enough to remember it. Or maybe we had such an experience and found it so traumatizing that our minds have completely blocked the memory.
I do, however, recall an incident when time was not our friend. We were young, with two small children. We liked to go out square dancing a couple Saturday nights a month. We also did western style round dancing a couple Tuesdays each month. These recreations gave us a break from our routine, and gave Allan’s mom and my mom some quality time with the little ones. As responsible parents, we always left a phone number where we could be reached in an emergency.
On one such evening we were going down to the square dance at the Westover Air Base in Chicopee. We had called ahead to make sure this was a phone that would be answered throughout the evening. You just never know with a government agency. We were reassured, and Continue reading