Ignorance is to bliss, as technology is to…

Bell Rock Courthouse ButteThe familiar phrase comes from an ode written by Thomas Gray, a poet who lived in the 1700s, The full quote is, “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”

The impetus for the poem was some joyful children playing near Eton College, with no thought of what future catastrophes their lives might hold. The poet lists a few: disdainful anger, pallid fear, grim-visaged, comfortless despair.  He describes an icy soul that watches a slow-consuming old age approach.

The poem was written when Gray was 26, perhaps a bit young for a midlife crisis, but consider that he died at 55. Later Romantic poets had even a worse fate, with Keats dying at 25 and Shelley at 30.

I’ve been blessed with good health, but these words of 300 years ago were prescient of events this past week.

On the advice of my wellness coach, I acquired a Fitbit and a blood-pressure cuff. (Also a thermometer that takes my temperature by touching my forehead, but that’s the topic for another day.)

Using these new wonders of technology, with additional inputs into my computer, I can tell exactly what my blood pressure is upon rising (comatose) and what percentage of fiber I have ingested for the day (not enough).

I now know if I’ve had a restful sleep or whether I’ve been sitting too long in front of the computer. It cheers me on if I’ve accomplished my step goal or allows me to “taunt” a friend if she has not achieved hers.

There are other intrusions on the horizon: Smart refrigerators that alert you if the milk is going bad. A beep on your phone to tell you the traffic is heavy this morning and you need to leave five minutes early for work.

Ray Kerzweil Singularity is NearAbout ten years ago, the futurist Ray Kurzweil wrote a book entitled, The Singularity is Near, in which he predicted a merger between genetics, nanotechnology and robotics to create a new humanoid species entirely unlike anything we ever known.

We are indeed close. I find it exceedingly uncomfortable to be jerked into the future like a puppy raised by the nape of the neck and unceremoniously dumped in the back yard. I’ve had that feeling several times this past week.

Maybe Thomas Gray had it right all along. Perhaps ignorance is bliss, and we don’t want, or need, to know what’s coming.

How do you feel about the merger of technology and humankind?
I’d love to hear from you!

The Creeks of the Verde Valley

Some people think of Arizona as a desert state, which it is, but the mid-part of the state is home to the beautiful Verde River and its five tributaries, Fossil Creek, Granite Creek, Oak Creek, Sycamore Creek and Clear Creek. And if you’d like to add a few, there is also dry Beaver Creek and its sister, Wet Beaver Creek.

Because the elevation drops through three life zones from north to south, this river and tributaries are a price beyond measure to the wild life they nourish. In 1984 the Verde was designated as a wild and scenic river.

The picture below is of Clear Creek, during a flood stage. It certainly lives up to that title!

Seasons of Change

We deal with change all the time. Day changes into night. Our body changes from hungry to full. Seasons change.

But if the cycle is predictable in many ways it may be comforting. Change can be, in the wider scheme of things like fractals. The farther away is your perspective, the more the overall pattern emerges.

Change within sameness in comforting. Change, anticipated, is satisfying.

As we move from summer into fall, I’m ready to break out the new school-year crayon box. I’m swinging into Starbucks for the pumpkin spice latte. I see geese flying a V overhead and feel a crispness in the air.

So when you say, “I hate change,” figure out what it is that is so disturbing. You may be surprised.

What does change mean to you? What is the most terrifying change you’ve ever experienced? The most satisfying?