Attending the lecture

I woke up yesterday morning a few hours before my alarm went off. I didn’t think anything of it since I have trouble sleeping. I picked up my phone and scrolled my feed on Facebook. My alma mater posted that the Distinguished Lecture Series had been scheduled for that same night, and the speaker was renowned physicist and futurist, Dr. Michio Kaku. Looking at the time of the event, I was disappointed since the lecture had been scheduled to begin at seven while I had been scheduled to work until eight.

I’ll admit I wanted to go. As I lay in bed, I wished there was a way I could attend, and then one of those rare happenings occurred. My phone rang, at around seven-twenty in the morning. I saw that my employer was calling me. I answered and they wanted to see if I would be interested in going in early, as soon as I could.

I immediately said yes and rushed to get ready. If I could be at work by nine, I would be off by six, and I would have plenty of time to get to the lecture. Nothing remarkable happened, except that I was ambushed by management. They surprised me with a card, a present, and forced to endure a silly hat while my photo was taken, but that’s another story entirely. I made it to the West Texas A&M University campus and to Legacy Hall, where the lecture would take place, thirty minutes early.

I felt uncomfortable being so early, but within ten minutes there was not an empty seat in the hall and people roamed the aisles, desperate to find a place to witness the lecture. University officials had to nudge students who had decided to sit in the aisles, invoking fire code issues. There was a mad rush to remedy the situation. They, Lecture Committee, hadn’t figured that so many would want to attend a lecture by someone as boring as a physicist, even one as renowned as Dr. Kaku.

They scurried to come up with a solution, and around seven-twenty, they announced that they had a solution, and that the lecture would be streamed to a few classrooms in the basement of the JBK Student Center, below Legacy Hall. For a moment no one moved, and I wondered if the Fire Marshall would show up and cancel the lecture, but my fears were unfounded. A few minutes later, after two officials began the introduction, Dr. Kaku walked up on stage.

What followed was an exciting look into the future. He gave a brief history on science and physics and its role in the economic cycles, of bubbles and depressions, starting with railroads and the industrial revolution, the stock market crash of 1929, the real estate boom and bust of 2008, and the next wave that is to come.

He discussed at length how ubiquitous computers would be, so much so that they would become invisible, much like how electricity has disappeared from the world. It’s there and we use it, but we take it for granted. Computing will become the same, easier and cheaper to use. He even discussed the future of healthcare, of how lifespans may increase with the ability to manufacture body parts via 3D printing using the patients own cells.

There’s no way I could do the lecture justice. Dr. Kaku was engaging. He had an accessible and humourous delivery style, of talking to the audience simply, but never talking down or being condescending. The only negative I took away was during the Q&A, where a WTAMU student used the opportunity to ask a question in such a way to insult conservatives and the religious. Dr. Kaku didn’t take the bait, feigning that he didn’t understand her question, and politely offering an alternative take on the question.

But, her clumsy and insulting jibe aside, I think her question was valid. What of the moral and ethical questions of creating a method to sustain human life almost indefinitely? What are the ramifications of creating virtual immortality? How do you counter objections that will likely be raised by the religious community, that God’s plan is for us to be born, to live, and to die?

I don’t have the answer, and I wonder if Dr. Kaku or the scientific community has the answer. Like many such philosophical questions, it may have to be deferred until such the moment we are faced with that particular dilemma. But such as it is, I enjoyed the lecture. I found the look into the future to be both exciting and frightening. I came away with some questions as well, but I believe a good lecturer should inspire us to ask them and to discover those answers for ourself.

All in all, it was the best birthday present I could give myself, and it’s all thanks to the serendipitous turn of event that had no one scheduled in my department all morning, forcing them to call me in early.

Flash Fiction: Time

I’m astounded by the capricious nature of Time, how it ebbs and flows much like the waves of an ocean against the beach. At times it’s gentle as it caresses the coast like a besotted lover, and at other it wreaks havoc like a jealous cuckold, destroying everything in it’s path. Time, I fear, has become the mistress that’s getting away from me.

Age is creeping up on me. I’m reminded every morning as I roll out of bed, by the aches in my back and by how my knees threaten to give out on me. I’m reminded as I look at the sagging spectacle of a naked man staring back at me in the mirror. I’m confronted by it when my younger wife goes out without me only to return tousle-haired in the wee hours of the morning, smelling of cheap booze and stale cigarettes.

She tries to hide it, but I can tell by the satisfied look on her face that she’s fooling around. I cry myself to sleep at night, knowing I have never seen that look after our lovemaking, even when I was a much younger and virile man. I never heard her cry out, I never heard a murmur out of her. She just laid there, an unwilling sacrifice as the dutiful wife, performing solely for the benefit of her inept husband.

I can’t recall the last time we made love. I can’t recall the last time she cared to initiate physical contact. I don’t remember what it feels like to have a woman who cares. She has her lover – or maybe multiple lovers – but yet she stays, my labor financing her betrayal. I’ve often wondered, as of late, how much of my money has gone to lavishing gifts onto those undeserving scoundrels.

It’s getting late out, and I see my wife, in a short skirt, walking out the door without so much as a goodbye. I won’t be here in the morning to witness her return. I won’t be here to play victim, willing or otherwise. I’m done being played the fool. I’m done being less than a man. Better off dead than to remain the joke that Time has made me. Perhaps Time has only granted me the wisdom to see that I’ve always been the joke.


Short Stories

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Previous story – The Writing On The Wall

Needs

I had planned on getting an early start today. My schedule at work had me working from 5:45 this morning until 2:45 this afternoon. By 4:00, I should have been here at home, manuscript beside me while I imputed the corrections into my laptop. My plans never seem to pan out. Damn you!

I ended up working a few hours late, having dinner with a friend, and not getting home until 8:00. Still plenty of time to get some work in on my writing, but instead I zoned out a bit, the exhaustion from a long day forcing me to shut my eyes for a bit. I don’t work tomorrow, so I’m planning on staying up a little longer and getting some editing done. I also plan on hitting it hard tomorrow. I wonder if my plan will happen.

I’m not complaining about my day. It was worth it, but today made me think about my future. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it off and on for the past several days. I’ll be 39 years old next week. I have lets say 25 to 30 years left of a working career. Do I want to be where I am no for the next 30 years? Is retail the place I want to be?

The answer is a resounding no. I don’t like what I’m doing. There’s no job security, no job satisfaction. I’m tearing my body down for an impersonal corporation that doesn’t care about me. It’s only concern is to make money for itself, and for its shareholders. Though I do believe in a free market society, I have to be frank and say that my needs are not being met.

Which brings me to consider what my needs are. My basic needs are being met. What I’m missing, and what I want and need the most is my independence. That need requires a certain level of financial security, which I don’t have. More than that, what I really need is something that fulfills me. I may need a job to pay the bills, but what of me? What do I need of my life to truly live?

Love and family? Yes. A career I enjoy? Certainly. The ability to travel and learn? Absolutely! The one thing I want out of life is to communicate my thoughts. Life is too short. I want to make an impression on the world, that though life is frail and it must end, there are things about me that mattered. I want to know that I had a positive impact on someone’s life.

So I write. That is what I need to live. I read and I learn so that I can turn around and put into words the thoughts and emotions that I have. I have things to say and I want to do the best I can to say them in a thought-provoking manner. I don’t want to die without saying what I need to say. I want to live on.

I didn’t mean to go so dark. There is no impending death on the horizon, or at least I hope not! I’m looking to the future and I can see myself stuck doing what I’m doing now. That’s easy to see. It’s what I fear the most. What I can’t see is the path obscured by doubt and the unknown. It scares me, but it calls to me because that’s the path that leads to immortality.

What will that take? It’ll take a level of dedication to my dream that will test the limits of my endurance. I’ll have to sacrifice and struggle to go where I want to go. I have to be free to fail, and failure is a familiar foe. I also have to be willing to find any measure of success.

As I continue to work on my writing, that’s the thought that motivates and tortures me. I have to stop dreaming the dream. It’s time to start realizing that same dream with my labor. I’ve already started down that path. Starting is not the issue. What trips me up is pushing myself until I reach the goal line. Starting is easy. I’m just unsure how to find the end. I could use a mentor and a coach in my life to help me along.

 

Out of story, well sort of

I ran out of story to edit! Okay, that’s not entirely true. I still have half the book to do, but I hadn’t gotten around to printing it yet. In the mean time, I’ll enter what I do have onto my computer and save it. Once I’m done, I’ll print off the other half and get started with that. It’s so simple!

But it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. It’s late and I have to work in the morning. Still, going though four chapters is impressive. There were only a few minor changes. I fear the bulk of what I need to rewrite is still ahead of me.

Yikes!