Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Unpleasant Personal Revelation

I just finished watching the Who Killed Amanda Palmer DVD. Tucked at the end are a couple of concert videos. Here, is the video for "Have to Drive."

The ending of the video tore me up even more than the "Sound of Music" video I shared back in April. I was absolutely bawling.

And I have to ask myself, "Why does that happen?"

I don't cry much. It's not a "tough guy" thing. I cry if I feel like it. The thing is, I rarely feel like it, and the instances that do make me cry are generally beautiful rather than tragic. I speculated before that beauty makes me cry because in general, the universe is just not a beautiful place.

Upon further reflection, I've come to a radically different conclusion.


I look at people bringing joy to total strangers, and it stabs me in the heart. It makes me say, "What the fuck am I doing with my life?"

And the answer to that question is not pleasant.

I make better bombs.

When the hell did that happen?

How the hell did that happen?

I never thought I would be the sort of person who would question the direction of his life, because I've been judicious in how I've spent it. If life is a path, then at every fork in the road, I picked the steeper ascent. My assumption has been that "up" is an intrinsically good direction.

But I'm beginning to sense a dissonance between my values and myself, and, at the age of 37, I'm looking down at the four decades I spent clambering to this summit and aside from the vertigo, I'm concerned that maybe, just maybe, I climbed the wrong mountain.


Ben Collins-Sussman said...

Bah, all science has potential for negative and positive karma.

My grandfather was a U of C / Argonne physicist who worked on the first nuclear reaction under Stagg Field -- which then led directly to the Manhattan project. But in penance, he also co-invented MRI and that little flashlight-clip hospitals put on your finger to detect oxygen levels in your blood.

So maybe you help make bombs, but there *must* be other uses for lasers. :-)

Bittersweet Sage said...

Just a note to say that I am feeling slightly better about all of this since discovering that my research may also help make better x-ray telescopes.