Monthly Archives: June 2014

Systemic Epiphany

It just hit me in the shower.  I know what I’m interested in.  Not all those hobby-interests like dance, or reading, or even the career-interests like international studies, or medicine.  No, now I finally know what holds all of those little things together.  The overall component that piques my curiosity no matter the subject, the driving force behind every search for understanding within my multifarious passions:

Systems.

It sounds so simple doesn’t it?

Forget the details behind each country’s foreign policy or the historical events that led to Bashar Al-Assad’s control over Syria.  Forget languages or the intricate anatomy of the human body and mind.  All of those details, all of those huge undertakings of research and the quest for understanding were just manifestations of one larger interest: systems.  I want to know how each piece fits into the puzzle.   How individual elements come together to create something greater.   How the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and what makes those parts fit into the whole; what makes the whole tick, and how does it operate independent of its components?

This holds true for every major interest I have ever pursued:

I grew up wanting to go into medicine.  I was fascinated by the body, how each organ did it’s part to promote the health of the whole.  How billions of individual cells came together to create a person.  How the brain directed each action, both consciously and unconsciously.  How surgeons could take things apart and put people together again.

This morphed into Cognitive Science.  What is consciousness?  How do cells come together to create a body that has a mind and a personality?  How does the brain/person control all of that?

Linguistics was a big part of that as well.  How does the brain comprehend sounds as meaning?  How do languages form?  How do the individual components of language come together to form words which form sentences which can be rearranged to create different meanings?  How do societies collectively attribute specific meaning to a string of sounds?

This bled further into Anthropology and International Studies.  How do societies form?  What holds them together?  How do individual people form groups that form nation-states and governments that can align with or against each other in greater organizations (such as the UN) and ultimately make up the world?

Lately I’ve been working at an insurance company.  While the work isn’t particularly inspiring, the company does offer several opportunities for education which I am trying to make the most of.  I have no interest at staying with this company forever but I’ve recently realized a budding interest in business.  Particularly in high-level business systems.  I want to understand how the company works.  How individuals form small departments that form big divisions that make up different branches of one over-arching company.  How money from one branch fuels the activities of another and a separate bucket is held in reserve.  How assets differ from cash flow and what business decisions affect one or the other.

Now, I’ve finally realized what my underlying interest has always been.   I want to know how systems work together to create a larger whole.

What are you interested in?  What drives your passions?  Leave a note in the comments.

Categories: In the USA, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grains of Fire and the Burn of Memory

30 May 2012

Sand.   Grains orange like sunset, bright against the white fabric.  Filling the corners of my pockets and clinging to my skin, as Morocco clings to my mind.

I’ve been home for a week now.  My suitcase is unpacked, most of my gifts and souvenirs have been sorted, but I’m still finding unexpected treasures from my life in Morocco.   Like the pants I’m wearing.   I thought the pockets were bunched up after I put them on, but when I went to straighten the lumps out, my fingers encountered fine sand, as bright as a sunset over the Sahara, which is, in fact, where it came from.

I realize I must have worn these on ISA’s last excursion to Merzouga, where we visited the Sahara desert almost a month ago now.  I can’t believe it’s been so long, and at the same time so short.  Time passes strangely while in transition and re-entry into the States is definitely a big transition to make.

I admit it’s not always fun, but neither is this re-entry as difficult as some others I have faced in the past.  I miss Morocco and have some culture shock, but I’m not completely depressed.   Perhaps, like all things, the transition becomes easier with time and practice.

Categories: In the USA, Morocco | Leave a comment

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