Saturday, March 28, 2015

Things Have Changed

Things have changed.  
But I can't tell you how.  Or what I'm going to do about it.  If I did, things would change for the worse.  
Not that the change was good.  When it happens, change can be startling.  Unsettling.  It's like an earthquake.  Your nice safe bed suddenly becomes a deathtrap.  Things that seemed stable are turned upside down.  
As someone living in Southern California, I should have known better.  Earthquakes happen here all the time.  It's not a question of "If" but "When."  It's the same with change.  It's about preparedness.  
That's where I'm at right now.  Having gone through the fore-shock, I want to be ready for The Big One.  Part of that preparation is keeping quiet.  Not telling anyone.  
Except, I did tell one person.  I had to.  You see, the way my mind works, talking and writing are the same as thinking.  I say things or write them down to hear them or feel them coming through my fingers through the pen to the paper, to see if they are true.  It's why I talk to myself.  
It's the one part of my personality that people have the hardest time understanding.  Or forgiving.  But it is how I am.  
So, I found one person who I thought I could tell who would understand the Thing that had Changed that I was talking about.  That person got it.  Saw it clearly.   
Good.  It's confirmed.  
Things have changed.  
Now?  I have to make other changes.  
I can't tell you what those other changes are.  Since they stem from the Thing that Changed first, telling you what the Other Changes are would lead you back to what the Thing that Changed is.  
Which you can't know.  Yet.  
So, right now I'm working on the Other Changes.  I've only just started.  No news or developments.  But, I've got the ball rolling.  
Actually...  I've really just nudged the ball.  It's kind of a big, heavy ball.  Not like a baseball or even a basketball.  More like that huge stone ball that chases Indiana Jones at the start of the first movie.  Remember.  That was a pretty huge ball.  If it had caught up to him it would have crushed him like a bug.  
I'm hoping my ball will be something like that when it gets going.  Big.  Rolling.  Unstoppable.  The people that are in front of it scrambling to get out of the way or they'll be crushed like bugs.  Right now, though, it's just sitting there.  
It's been sitting there for a while.  That's my fault.  I should have nudged it a while ago.  It's been sitting there so long, I wonder if it'll roll at all.  
You ever wonder about that in movies like Indiana Jones?  All these ancient traps and secret doors that have been sitting there for centuries, but which open smoothly and work perfectly when you put the key in, or pull the skeleton's jaw down, as if someone spritzed them with WD-40 right before the hero came on the scene?  In real life, Big Stone Balls that have been sitting there for years get stuck in place and require cleaning, polishing, retooling before they start rolling smoothly.  
And if these are mental Stone Balls, then they can be stuck even more in the ruts on your mind.  
I'm hearing myself saying "stone balls" over and over again and I'm thinking it can be taken the wrong way.  So I'll stop now.  Any lascivious thoughts that sprang up in your mind at this term are yours to deal with, you dirty-minded person you.
Anyway, the...  Big Rolling Thing made of Rock, has been given a nudge.  The first of many.  I hope.  
I think that is the issue that I'm dealing with.  Things change.  This is different from the Thing that has Changed that I've been writing about since the start of this blog.  Things change all the time.  They're changing right now.  Last year I was 53 years old.  Next year, I'll be 55 (assuming really bad changes don't take place that keep me from being here).  Every fraction of every second of every moment of one's life, billions of small, unnoticeable changes take place.  One day pyramids are the next big thing, the next we're putting men on the moon.  It just happens.  
To to Make Changes...  That's hard.  It's really hard.  Sometimes it's impossible.  But it only seems impossible because, as noted, they're going to change anyway.  
If you sit perfectly and absolutely still, change will happen.  If you put yourself into a stasis chamber, which freezes the all activity in your body down to the sub-atomic level, when you pop open the hatch and step out, the universe will be different from when you went it.  
So, really, it's just one's attitude that needs to change.  The idea that things can't be changed.  Because they do change (as I've pointed out above).  They don't seem to change because, as we go through life, our changes are being made in step with every other change taking place.  It's like driving in traffic, with all the cars going at the same speed.  If you just look at the cars around you, it might look like your standing still.  
That is one of the parts of the Thing that has changed that has changed.  My Attitude.  It's changed.  About what?  Can't tell you.  Yet.  But, it has changed. 
So, I guess what I'm creeping towards from a logical standpoint, is that what I really want to do is not "Change Things," but "Change the Rate and Direction of Change." 
Using the traffic metaphor, it would be like hitting the gas pedal, to whizz by the cars around you.  Or hitting the brakes, to change lanes in time to make that off-ramp before you drive by it.  
I think, though, while changes like this can certainly make Bigger Changes happen (like causing a pile-up on the freeway), I think the universe has it figured out better.  
I need to make little changes.  Tiny, sand-grain sized changes, and pile them up again and again, every day.  If such a pile builds up behind the...  Giant Rolling Thing made of Rock, then it might push it forward with a more force than any nudge I might make.  
Or so I hope.  
Anyway...  Thanks for hearing me out.  It's been a real help.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Getting to Know Victor Again Because of Riyoko

I'm about to read again a book I read over forty years ago because of a Japanese TV show.  If you let it, life will do things like this to you.  
The Japanese TV show is called, "Booked for Japan."  The show documents the life of famous, creative people, artists, interior designers, astronauts, etc., and then asks them to name their favorite book.  This is the book that had the biggest influence on them, their work, their life, their creative output.  
It was because of this show that I decided to start reading If Cats Disappeared from the World, (世界から猫が消えたなら) a novel by Genki Kawamura, in Japanese.  I'm into the second chapter now.  
The person of interest on a recent airing I happened to see was Riyoko Ikeda.  She is a rather famous manga or comic book artist, whose most famous work is The Rose of Versailles.  Based on the French Revolution, this series is credited with being one that helped revolutionize "shoujo" or manga for girls.  From a commercial standpoint it was one of the best-selling manga series throughout the world, was turned into a movie, a television series and a musical review that has been staged numerous times in Japan.  It's one of those works that can be termed a "media franchise."  
While watching the show, I discovered that Ms. Ikeda stopped creating manga in her forties to pursue a career as a classical singer.  This startled me.  I recalled Michael Jordan quitting basketball to try playing professional baseball.  I don't know how successful it was, this change of career, but she did succeed in auditioning for and being accepted at music schools and eventually performed professionally.  
When the conversation turned to what allowed her to make such a change, Ikeda began taking about her favorite book.  It was Man's Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl.  
"Oh..."  I nodded to myself.  "I've read that."  
It was at Damien High School in La Verne, California.  Freshman Ethics.  It was the book we were assigned to read my first term there.  
There have been a lot of books assigned to students throughout the years.  Most don't make much of a dent on most of the students.  Even me, who likes to read a lot, can't tell you about more than two or three of those assigned books.  Man's Search for Meaning is one that I could remember reading though.  Throughout the years I've heard someone mention it's title as being a book that influenced them, such as Ms. Ikeda had done on Booked for Japan.  My reaction would be about the same.  "Oh.  Yeah.  I've read that."  
Victor Frankl was a concentration camp survivor during the Holocaust.  He had been a trained psychologist before the war.  The book is more than an account of his experiences in the camp.  It was his observations as a psychologist on how the people in the camp, and to a degree those that oversaw them, reacted to their circumstances.  
Two scenes from the book have stuck with me over the years.  One takes place after the war.  Frankl describes walking with an acquaintance, another survivor, though the streets of the city they've returned to.  They come upon a bed of flowers, one that is planted across the way they are heading.  
Frankl stops to find away around the flower bed, but the acquaintance walks ahead, trampling the flowers beneath his feet, without hesitation.  When Frankl catches up with his friend, he asks him why he walked through the flowers crushing them as he had.  The friend replies that he didn't feel any necessity to turn aside.  No one raised a hand to assist them when they were arrested and hauled off to the camps to die in such numbers.  In such a world, why should he concern himself with a few flowers?  
Another scene I recall was about the person assigned the task of handing out soup to the camps inmates.  Frankl described how one person given this task would keep their head down, staring into the pot.  They would not look up from their job.  They would not acknowledge or look into the faces of whomever was standing before him.  His motion was mechanical.  Take the bowl.  Dip the ladle into the soup.  Fill the bowl.  Hand it back.  Repeat for the person that follows.  
We debated this person in Ethics class.  I remember thinking at time, and still do to a degree, that the person was working hard to be fair.  To ensure that everyone got the same serving of soup, they would not look up to see if the person before them was someone they hated or someone that was a friend.  To me, this seemed a good effort on his part.  
There were other people in the class who thought differently.  This person was abdicating their responsibility to help others in greater need.  He was being a tool of those in power, performing the task as they needed him to do.  What if someone was sick?  What if someone had a stash of food that he knew about and didn't need the meager serving being doled out?  At what point does following the rules you were told to follow become an abdication of responsibility?  These were the questions we addressed in that class.  
As Ms. Ikeda discussed the book, quoting passages from it, I wondered how much of it has stayed with me?  One of the quotes Ms. Ikeda read was...
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
This echos a thought that I've encountered numerous times in my life that I actually advocate against.  The idea that "being happy" is something one chooses to do.  I have affirmed in the past that, if a person's is living in miserable circumstances, then it's understandable that he or she should be miserable.  It seemed to me that "being happy" in this fashion was similar to taking drugs, a false euphoria masking an objective observation of one's circumstances, which would be the first step in addressing the miserable aspects of one's life to change them for the better.  
Prompted by Ms. Ikeda's reading, I went online to refresh my understanding of the book.  That's when I discovered another quote from it: 
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
This has what I think is a startling implication.  Assume that one's circumstance, the conditions of one's life, can't be changed.  This may be, in many instances, a logical fallacy.  Most often the conditions of one's life CAN be changed, we either don't recognize how or feel we are unable to do so.  But taken as the premise for my argument, if one's circumstances can not be changed, then the only other option one has is, in order to remain sane and whole, is to adapt.  To changes oneself and one's outlook.  
But...  If we change our outlook.  If we change our perspective on the life we are leading, taking a proverbial step to one side or using fresh eyes, are we not changing the parameters of what "can" and "can't" be changed?  If the person I was "over there" can't change the way things are, is it not possible that the person "over here," might fight a way to do so?  
And even if the overall pattern of experience remains intact, the external conditions that dominate one's life continue to dictate what actions are allowable, the move to a different perspective may allow other nuances to come into effect, simply by making them known to the person "over here" you've become.  
Ok, Ok...  Stopping now.  Deep thinking stuff.  Take a deep breath.  Let it out.  Good. 
I made the decision to read Man's Search for Meaning again.  I want to go back to the source material and see how much of what I've been thinking is stemming from that Freshman Ethics class experience.  Who knows, it might demonstrate that High School was more important that we give it credit for being.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Results from my Imaginary Focus Group

While hiking today, I had a town hall meeting in my head.  
I should note that this is not uncommon for me.  When I encounter a new concept, argument or belief, some mode of thought that I've not encountered before, I'll imagine myself at some gathering of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, members of the community, neighbors or complete strangers in some pretend version of place I've been to before or frequent or have never been to in my entire life and have a discussion with these citizens of my mind regarding said topic.  
Some of the most heated of these illusory discussions, some with violent endings, have taken place at the American Eagle terminal at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, during a fanciful trip to visit my parents in Barling, Arkansas on some non-existent occasion.  It has prompted me to refrain from talking to strangers when I make this journey in real life.  
This particular Town Hall Meeting of the Mind took place in an unfamiliar location.  It was some academic space.  Something like those auditorium styled classrooms where they teach those required courses that every freshman has to take, like "California Civics 101."  It was prompted by an article I read about the reason one philosophy and ethics teacher believes is the reason behind his observation that young people entering college today do not believe in moral truth.  You can read his opinion piece HERE.
To summarize, he is ascribing this trend that he's observed (while admitting there is no nationwide study to quantify the degree to which this observation is shared by that demographic), to the Common Core curriculum being implemented across the country, and its requirement that students be able to discern "fact" from "opinion" and the standard it imparts to students to be able to make such a distinction.
The contention of the writer of the piece is that Common Core's strict definitions of "fact" as being something that can be tested or proven, and "opinion" as being something that someone feels, thinks or believes creates a mental model that undermines the view that there are moral truths that are objective and should be adhered to.  I'll leave it to you to read his piece and make the determination yourself if you agree with the his argument.  It was forceful enough for me, obviously, that I found myself creating an imaginary forum in my head to debate and discuss it.
This particular fictional town hall gathering in my head was pretty diverse and large.  A young lady, in her early twenties, was expressing her point of view, shaped by the Common Core values I've summarized from the opinion piece's writer, that there is no such thing as moral truth.  I was giving my response, shaped by those opinions that I shared with the writer of the opinion piece, that there is a distinction between "facts" and "proof," that what is "proven" by one generation can, and sometimes has been  "disproven" by another on certain topics, that some points of view could be both "fact" and "opinion," and that there are "facts" that, at least under our current abilities or circumstances can't be proven or tested.  My favorite example from the piece was the existence of other intelligent species in the universe.  This may or may not be a fact, but the logic of our understanding of how the universe works, and the mounting evidence that life can come into being in a huge variety of environments, some of which would be hostile to "normal" life on our planet, leads me to categorize this viewpoint as "fact" rather than mere "opinion."
I should add that the same could be same for the existence of God.  If one assumes that, by His (or Her, or Its) nature, God would have to exist outside or beyond the bounds of experiential existence, then the "fact" of Her (or Its, or His) existence would remain forever beyond any objective proof or verification method that we could create.  
It was at this point, though, that the non-existent moderator of this pretend town hall meeting threw me for a bit of a loop by turning this question back on me.  
"If," he asked, "There are Facts or Truths that can not be proven or verified objectively, what method remains for us to separate them from what would be categorized as 'opinion'?"
In my mind, I sat there for a moment.  Everyone else in the darkened auditorium waited for me to give an answer to this query.  I know exactly what my imaginary self was thinking because I was thinking the same thing in my real-self brain just off to the side. 
The single word answer I came up with was this: "Beauty."
Yeah...  This is something like the "Truth is Beauty, Beauty is Truth," we've heard in English class.  Definitely not that visual attractiveness of some person or object that would be more accurately translated as "pretty."  Nor the collection of sounds that combine into something millions of people might download to listen to or play on their cell phones as ringtones.
The purpose here is to formulate a yard-stick by which concepts can be measure for their degree of truthfulness.
The Beauty I'm referring to, I said to my fellow make-believe members of this discussion, is a form of symmetry.  It is a seamless explanation of why certain things happen, and what we might expect from them.  The circumstances of life can be ugly at times, unfortunate, painful, and deadly.  The Beauty I'm talking about will tell us why things are they way we are, often due to some moral truth, which I do think exist, being violated, and pointing the way to correcting the state of things.  
It is the type of beauty that is expressed in a mathematic formula, a proof, where all the numbers and parts line up.  
It is the beauty that exists in a sinker, breaking low and away, when the batter nearly falls over chasing after it because it looked so much like the inside fastball he was expecting when the pitch was first released.  
All Truths (with a capital "T") are marked by this synchronicity.  All the parts connect.  There is no jury-rigging.  It explains.  It makes sense.  It fits into your brain like the word for something you feel but have difficult describing that you stumble across in some book or article.  You don't come up with it.  You recognize it.  
As I expressed this thought to the imaginary people gathered in my mind, I began looking at the problems, issues and circumstances surrounding my life, both personal and in the greater fabric of society.  What I came up with when I did that was the sense that most of the solutions being offered for these problems, or which I attempt to apply to personal issues, are, in a word, ugly.   They are ad hoc.  They address only surface symptoms or features of problems.  They do not connect completely across the issue, tying all the parts in place.  This is not due to them being comprehensive.  In fact, they are often too comprehensive.  Like Rube Goldberg machines, they require a series of exchanges that need to be constantly monitored and observed to ensure they go off without a hitch, even while the parties involved accuse the others of violating some essential part of the process.  
Think the Two-State Solution.  Body cameras on police.  Raising the Debt Ceiling.  National Healthcare.  Etc., etc., etc....  Compromise is at the heart of any political decision.  But if we can't agree at what is at the heart, the Truth of the matter, then no amount of comprehensive complication will create something that works.  
I finished my hike before the town hall meeting in my head reached a conclusion.  I don't know if I convinced the young woman I was debating against of the veracity of my arguments.  I probably did.  In my mind I am Simply BRILLIANT!  I think that I have gained a tool for evaluating figuring out solutions to issues I face.  At least a way of clarifying what is the Truth that is being engaged by that interaction with others, and thereby understand what moral truth that I ought to be facing because of it.  
If it simplifies, if it connects, if it is Beautiful, then it is very likely the direction I should be heading. 
Now, the only thing left to do is get the world to work as beautifully as the one inside my head.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

On the Trail to Something Spectacular

I walked over fifteen thousand steps, about six and a half miles, on a two and a half hour hike in the early hours this morning.  When I pointed this out to the people from work that I hike with, adding that my daily goal is fifteen thousand steps a day, one of them replied, "That means you don't have to take another step for the rest of the day!"  
I pointed out that if I took that attitude and stopped on the trail where we were someone would have to carry me out of the park to my car.  But I had not intention of stopping anyway.  
That's because I still hadn't found it.  
The "It" I'm referring to is "something spectacular."  I learned about it from a fortune cookie I received at lunch this week.  My boss took me and my fellow managers out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant to celebrate my 54th birthday.  
The fortune cookie read, "Something spectacular is coming your way."  
I've been on the lookout.  It hasn't come yet.  I don't know exactly what this spectacular "something" will be.  But the definition of the word spectacular, "Beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching way," tells me that its arrival will be clear.  I'm thinking marching elephants, trumpets blowing, a spectacle of the sort a Roman Emperor might preside over.  
Nothing like it so far.  
It's why I walked those 15,000+ steps today.  Normally when we go hiking I make only one round.  We start at one end of the trail, reach the other, march back.  I go home to make breakfast at that point.  Some of the others will make a second trip, or will continue there and back on an easier trail.  
Today, when asked if I'd go another trip, I paused for a moment and said, "yes."  I was reacting to a gut feeling.  A "Why not?" sort of reaction, but one that was stronger and more specific.  Now that I went and came back, I think I know the reason I went.
The spectacular something wasn't on the first trail.  Maybe it will be on the second.  
It wasn't.  I know.  I was there.  So, I'm still waiting.  
Not just waiting though.  
I've diverting now.  To a story I might have relayed in a previous post.  I don't remember, but here it is anyway.  
It was...  Jeez.  I can't remember exactly.  It was the first time I attended Comic-Con in San Diego.  The San Diego Conventions Center was, literally, half the size it is today.  Hall H and the Ballroom 20 didn't even exist.  They were lines on some architect's design.  
I was there with a friend I'd met at work to see if we could get the comic book we'd created published by someone.  We'd split up to attend different panels.  I went to one about comic book writing.  I don't remember who was speaking.  He was popular though.  When I got to the room, it was filled to capacity.  I had to sit on an empty patch of floor near the doorway, something they won't allow you to do during the convention any more.  
It was toward the end of the panel when this important event happened.  It was during the Q&A portion, when the writer was answering questions from the audience.  Someone near the front stood up and asked his question.  Unlike the other questions, which had been about how to pitch a story, script format, practical matters like that, this one was more general, and in a way more pointed.  
"How do you know if you can make it as a writer?"  
After his question the guy from the audience went on for a bit, talking about how he thought he could "make it," that his stuff was good in his opinion, but that the rejections were hard to take and he wondered if there was some sign or signal that he could be on the look-out for to tell him that, yeah, he wasn't wasting his time.  
The writer giving the panel started and stopped for a bit.  Well, you just got to trust yourself.  You've got to not let rejection get you down.  Finish what you're writing then immediately start something else.  The writer, realizing that he wasn't addressing the heart of the guy's question stopped himself.  He slapped his hands on the table he was sitting behind and said...
"Ok.  Here.  We'll do this.  What if I told you that you had to write...  I don't know...  Ten million words.  And that all of those first ten million words would be absolute shit.  But then, at the ten millionth and first word, you'd be good enough to make it, what would you do?  Would you write those ten million words."  
Sitting on the floor by the door, I immediately said, under my breath, "Yes."  
The guy from the audience didn't like the answer.  He now hemmed and hawed and ending up saying that he didn't know.  
The writer shrugged and said, "There's your answer."  
This week I've been pondering the question of what drives me.  What drives Me?  I keep asking myself this question and I keep hearing the echo in my head as I wait for the answer.  You'd think that, after fifty-four years, five days, fourteen hours and twenty-four minutes (as of the writing of this entry), I'd have a better idea.  
It's not the same as motivation or objective, I don't think.  Maybe that's making the question more complicated than it needs to be.  Motivation is the why I do what I do.  Objective is what I'm trying to achieve.  Taking the example of someone being chased by a bear in the forest, the bear is his motivation and the tree he's hoping to climb before the bear catches him is his objective.  
What drives him, I think, are his legs.  They are the motor he's using to get away from the bear and to the tree before the bear gets him.  It's easy to see if a bear is chasing you.  It's harder if you're talking about life.  
There was a moment during our hike that touches on this, I think.  
It was the last part of our hike.  The walk back.  There is this steep incline we have to go up to get over the hill to start our descent to the parking lot.  
I noticed that one of my companions had stopped.  The same one who would tell me later that I didn't have to take another step.  
"I hate this hill."  She sighed and shook her head.  
"Your hatred of the hill won't make it go away." 
"I just can't get used to it."  
"You can't stop."  
"Yes, I can."  
"No..."  I went back to join her.  She started trudging up the hill.  I reached her side and joined her in her trudge.  "You can't.  You've got to say, 'Fuck you, Hill, if you think you're going to stop me,' and march right on up the hill's backside."  
"But I just can't get used to it."  She paused again.  She stared at mound of earth, rock, stone, shrubs and trees we were climbing.  "I think, one day, I'll be able to just...  Go up the hill and it won't bother me."  
"You do that by going up the hill."  I put my foot forward to demonstrate.  She took a step to stay with me.  I started walking and she started walking too.  "You take one step at a time.  Left, right, left right.  You keep doing that until you're there.  It's that basic."  
We joined the others who were waiting for us and started talking about other things, work, breakfast, dieting and exercise and how everyone else was doing in our company's fat-loss competition.  I kept thinking how what I told her informs a lot of what I do. 
I just do.  I do one thing, then another, I try to focus on what is right in front of me.  I watch my steps to keep from falling.  Eventually, I get somewhere.
Or maybe, get something.  Something...  Spectacular?  
Not so far.  I sometimes wonder that, by keeping my head down I might miss the spectacular something when it arrives.  I just have to hope that it's right in front of me so I'll bump into it.  
Until then, I will keep walking.  Meet it half way.  Which might mean it won't arrive until I'm 108 years old.  If that's the case, I'll be using a cane if I have to.  

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Driven by Words

I discovered a new word while writing this blog.  It was serendipity, which isn’t the new word but which is a grossly underused word, in my humble opinion.  
My new word discovery happened like this... 
I was hammering away at my laptop trying to come up with a topic for this week’s blog.  I had lots of things to choose from which caught my attention this week.  
There was, for instance, the black and blue/white and gold dress thing.  I found out about when someone in another department presented their phone to me and said, “What color is this dress?”  It touched on things I’m interested in, such as perception and how we see the world, and how this impacts society, such as in using eye witness testimony to determine someone’s guilt or innocence.  
There was also the death of Leonard Nimoy, which touched me deeply.  I empathized with the character of Spock more than any other in the Star Trek universe.  It saddens me that my version of the show is facing away.  
I was also thinking about my impending birthday (I turn 54 on March 1st).  If you consider that the restaurants I frequent in the area where I live offer senior discounts to people aged 55 and older, it means that my birthday marks the beginning of the last year of youth.  Or whatever is the opposite of being old.  
And there was all sorts of ideas from the TED Radio Hour broadcast I listened to about Success.  How we define it.  What it means to us.  What some rather smart people think about what you need to do to get it.  After listening to the broadcast I decided I needed to decide more.  And smile more, even if I’m not “really” happy.  And have more grit.  Or grits.  At one of the local restaurants.  Off the senior menu, maybe.  
Anyway...  I was writing in my word palette (a document I open up to write down notes, jot down what I’m feeling, basically keep the fingers moving until an idea pops out at me) and was trying to write a sentence with the word, “inspiring” in it.  My fingers stumbled though, probably due to their extended age, and instead of “inspiring” I wrote “inspiriting.”  
Crap.  I hate mistakes.  I can’t keep writing if I know that there is a misspelled word in the previous passage  I have to correct it before I can go forward.  So, I started to backspace, to erase what I was sure was a non-word, when I noticed my word processing program hadn’t underlined the word in red, its reaction to misspelled words. 
Maybe I’d been too quick on the keyboard...?  I’d backspaced so fast that even my MacBook Pro didn’t have time to point out my error.  Just to verify what I’d seen, I wrote the word out again.  Inspiriting.  And waited for the red underline to appear.   
And then waited some more.  Then waited a bit longer.  Finally, I opened up my dictionary and entered, “inspiriting” into the search field.  This is what the dictionary returned: 

inspirit |inˈspirit|
verb ( -spirited , -spiriting ) [ trans. ] [usu. as adj. ] ( inspiriting)
encourage and enliven (someone) : the inspiriting beauty of Gothic architecture.
Holy Crap!  I had never encountered this word before.  To “inspirit” someone.  Cool.  My assumption is that it’s an older word that doesn’t get used any more because people have decided to use “inspire” in a more general sense  
But I think that’s a mistake.  There is a subtle difference in the two words.  The same dictionary defines “To Inspire” as, “To fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative.”  To inspirit someone lacks the impulse to do something specific but is directed toward their general well-being.  To put some spring in their step.  To get them to smile.  To make them feel good about being alive.  
To inspire someone is to play the role of their muse.  To inspirit someone is to be their friend, or their lover.  
I have songs that put me in good moods and make me see more clearly the good qualities that exist in my life.  All this time I thought they were inspiring songs.  They weren’t.  They were inspiriting songs. 
The other word came from Japanese.  I tweeted about it a few days ago.  The word, which I’ll write in romanji (that’s the Japanese word for English letters, written in romanji), is “tsundoku.”  It’s a four syllable word in Japanese: tsu-n-do-ku.  It is the act of collecting piles of books, but not reading them.  At least not right away.  
I do this.  I am a tsundoku-er.  I’m realizing right now my Dad was a tsundoku-er also.  He used to work at a cardboard tube factory.  They would take waste paper, turn it into pulp and use it to make the cardboard they used to make the tubes.  Sometimes they would get boxes of books to throw into the pulping machine.  Dad thought there was something wrong in turning books into tubes to hold rolls of toilet paper.  So he would bring them home and tsundoku them in what became my bedroom.  
That is what began my life of tsundoku-ing.  I don’t tsundoku as much as I used to.  I don’t read as much as I did when I was a kid.  Not nearly as much as I like.  But there is still something about a pile of books that says to me, “There is SOMETHING in there.  I know it!”  Within each bound cover, there is a whole world that once existed in someone else’s mind.  Tsundoku-ing books is like collecting piles of friends you plan on meeting in the future.  
There is something about knowing there is a word that describes something you do.  Not a sentence, which are designed to describe things.  But a single word.  A unit of thought that says, “this is something distinct and different, something singular that you should know.”  
I tsundoku.  And I do it proudly. 
In the TED Talk Radio Hour on success that I mentioned above, Tony Robbins, the famous motivational speaker (though he apparently doesn’t like the term), talked about the importance of knowing what drives you and appreciating what drives others.  
Words drive me.  I love words.  It is my love of words that made me a lover of books, packages of organized collections of words.  Words are seeds.  Concepts that take root in your brain, that combine and cross-fertilize with other words to create bigger, more complicated and beautiful concepts.  Concepts that we mutually recognize and share with each other. 
Words are the keys to reaching into other people’s minds. 
One of my favorite words when I was a teenager: defenestration.  It's a German word.  It means to throw something out a window.  It's most famous usage comes from hi reference in history is from the early 1600's.  It was the incident that prompted the start of the Thirty Years War.  Imperial regents, representatives of the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor, were thrown out the window of the building where they were meeting by Protestant representatives.  According to the accounts from the Church, the regents did not die from this act of defenestration because angels caught them before they hit the ground and lifted them to safety.  According to Protestant witnesses outside the window they were defenestrated from, a pile of dung below cushioned their blow.  
Words are thoughts.  And the more thoughts we have, the more we do to encapsulate our experiences into thought, the more we live.  Sitting in a lightless room, without moving, expending as little energy as possible, may, possibly, increase the number of hours one’s body functions.  But it is getting up, seeing things, feeling things, doing things and describing to others the thoughts and experiences these activities created within you, while incorporating what they pass on to you in the same fashion, are what make up life.  
So, in a way, words ARE life.  
This is my opinion.  I hope it doesn’t inspirit you to defenestrate me, especially if the discovery of my blog was the result of some serendipitous event.  If it does, though, I can only hope there is a pile of tsundoku-ed books waiting to cushion my fall.