Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Antarctica Still on My Mind

Life is full of the most bizarre surprises.  We all know this, but sometimes we need reaffirmation.  And true to form, that reminder comes from unexpected quarters!!

Here's my current example.  I'm taking a class studying the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher probably most famous for proclaiming that God is dead.  Seems like a somewhat downer topic, eh?  But SURPRISE!  I am finding sprinkled throughout his writing wonderful comments on the beauty of the world around us and overcoming challenges and traveling and embracing life.  For a guy who died very young and was sick for much of that time, this is wholly unexpected!

I would never in a million years have guessed that Nietzsche would have a contribution to the ongoing efforts to put words to the Antarctic experience.

And yet, here it is:

Hours will come when you will realize that it is infinite and that there is nothing more awesome than infinity.


Infinity is awesome, and part of what makes it so is how minuscule you are in comparison.  Infinity is massive.  Infinity is mind-boggling.  Infinity are those overwhelming landscapes that turn you into a speck.  Infinity is laying on your back beneath a star-spangled sky and peering into other galaxies.  Infinity makes your brain rebel when you really try to think about it.

When you're in the middle of Antarctica, it looks like ice and snow to the ends of the earth.  Your brain knows that's not true, of course, but when little ol' you is standing dwarfed by mountains and seeing the whiteness disappear into the horizon, you flirt with understanding infinity.

Nietzsche was actually writing (beautifully: "silk and gold and reveries of graciousness") about the ocean when he penned that quote.  Oceans of ice, oceans of water, oceans of grass, oceans of sand .... experiencing those earthly places where you are unavoidably aware of the grand scale of the world and life and your precariously teeny role in all of it are as close as you'll ever get to comprehending infinity.  Because it's too awesome.

I paid a heap of money and ran a marathon to get these photos, please do not steal them.

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