I am called by some atheist because I don't believe in god. That's okay, but it is only half the truth. My wife calls me religious because any place we go in the world we visit churches and temples. An old habit I call that. My father was teacher of history and on all our travels we visited old buildings. Castles, fortresses and yes churches. Wherever I go I have the deepest respect for the people who were so inspired by their belief that they made such marvelous things. The other side of me knows about the sometimes callous way in which lives were thrown away to achieve those goals. It always makes me feel divided because it is something I cannot approach in a rational way and it is the feeling for rituals that I lack.

Anyway on my more philosophic days I sometimes read a book. It can be about particle physics or cosmology. The distances in either direction are beyond normal human understanding. Because distances are so difficult to understand, the Dutch educator Kees Boeke wrote a book called Cosmic View, The Universe in 40 Jumps”. “Cosmic view” is an illustrated book that shows things from the atomic small to astronomically big. His book inspired the making of movie powers of ten (1977). A later version of 1997 is more spectacular to watch.

Still it does not go to the smallest distance. That is the planck length (1.6162×10−35 meter), but it shows what the size of the observable universe is. This is the biggest distance we can see with our telescopes. What is beyond we cannot know unless we invent a way to bypass the speed of light. Our galaxy (the milky way) is part of super cluster called Laniakea. This super cluster is mind boggling big. In fact so big that it is difficult to make out you are part of it. It's like being in the forest standing beside a tree. How do you know which forest you are part of? How far does your own forest stretch? Question that modern science is trying to answer. I rarely get enough of reading about it.

So I read my book (this is summer) in the garden. And suddenly is there an ant creeping up my leg. I reach with my fingers and kill it. Just like that. There is undoubtedly a Indian religion that says that I had no right to kill the creature, but here I am. I just did it.

gsWhy did I kill the ant? The ant had no conception of me. To the ant it was like he was walking a big surface when suddenly disaster struck. To the ant and it's family it might as well be an act of god. If another ant would try to make sense of it's death he could come to many conclusions. Like the ant that died forgot to say it's prayers. The ant that died walked on a blue surface, and no one should ever walk on a blue surface. Etc. Many reasons and none would be true. In fact the ant died because I don't like animals creeping up my body. No ant could conceive of such a thing. Any ant religion that would try to keep it's members safe from my wrath would fail. After all a prohibition against blue surfaces would not work if I suddenly decided to wear green trousers. Also good behaviour would not work. I did not kill the ant because he was good or bad. It had nothing to do with my decision. So if god is big and I am an ant in the universe I would mean so little to god that there is no middle ground. If god would be small like an ant I would be able crush him. That would not be good for god (and maybe not for me). Just as a big god would not be good for me. Maybe I just prefer to think of him as about my size. A man with a beard. But that's like Santa Claus.

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moocAt the moment I take part in a writing course of the Open University in England. It's a free course, a so called MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). If you have not heard this term before I don't blame you. I only discovered it a couple of weeks ago. Courses like that seem to be the fashion these days. You can take your pick of what you like, do it in your own pace and get a diploma if you are really interested in getting one. This usually costs something, but the fees are not really a barrier.

I started the writing course because I would like to sharpen my skills a bit. I know I can just write about any subject (like I am doing now), but if I would one decide to write a real novel hints are appreciated. So I embarked on that journey. What is important, and what is not. One of the most useful hints is to keep notebook. A book in which you write ideas, fragments, incomplete texts etc. The advice was more or less to keep this notebook with you at all times, so that when an idea occurs you can immediately put in writing. Lest you forget. Nothing gets lost. You create a mumbo jumbo database of your brain's images. To be processed later when you start writing and editing.

I have one small problem. The best idea's I get when I swim. I usually swim in Vesihelmi a special back stroke (called Altdeutsch-Rückenschlag). It is not so efficient as normal back crawl, but I am quite good at it and I am often able to keep with others who do the free style (breast crawl) or butterfly.

Anyway it relaxes me. With my ears in the water, the noise from above is reduced and when I navigate on the pattern of the ceiling to keep my course straight I relax. I get ideas, what to write, how proceed with work th next day etc. But right now I am immersed in the water. I can't write anything down. My memory is like a leaking basket. My ideas as they come disappear as quickly. A self defense mechanism. A remnant of some youth traumas. I needed to forget so I did. But now I need to remember. No gadget is going to help me here. I have to train myself. As I stare at the ceiling I start thinking that I should train my powers of observation. The second thought that occurs that this is again the wrong place. The ceiling is not a lively place. Or is it? The ceiling is not uniformly flat. It is made out of squares, like kitchen sinks. Along the lines that provide the pattern for my navigation shadows fall. Also not in a uniform way. Some are simple and rectangular, some bend strangely when the shadow is the product of two lamps. I notice that the differences help me to remember. What is out of ordinary I keep in mind.

That is the key! We never remember what is normal. We remember the exception. What strikes us as odd. I try it out in the sauna. Start to observe the others that I meet. Are there any differences? A guy sits with his feet pointed upward while all the others put their feet firmly on the ground. It is not much, but it is a start. I remember it now as I write this story. Something stuck. Maybe I get the hang of it some day.

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