Friday, March 26, 1993

Written for my English 101 class that I took at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.

"Ignorance is Bliss." someone once said. But then Socrates said, "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance." I wonder who's right. Even though both ends of the education spectrum have their advantages and disadvantages, it is that which leads to fullness of mind and spirit that is most important.

Sure, one does not need an education to be happy. My father has a seventh grade education and has led a happy and productive life. What got him through it though was the little amount of education that he did receive. Seven grades is better than nothing, I guess. So perhaps we should change the opening statement of this paragraph to "Sure, one does not need a complete education to be happy."

Statistics are very clear. A person who graduated high school is going to make more money than a drop out. A person with an Associate's Degree is going to make more than a high school graduate. Bachelor's more than an Associate's, Master's more than a Bachelors, Doctorate's more than a Master's. Everything's relative.

You can probably tell, it's hard to compare an educated person to an uneducated person on an economic level. But an education does not make one better than another. Both types of people have the relatively same capacity for learning. At one time, Albert Einstein was not educated. Even when he went to school he flunked out of math. Today we know him as one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century, if not all time. He understood the need for an education and had an interesting approach to the whole process. It was he who said, "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible."

From a more personal standpoint, I understand the need for an education through the eyes of the military. Specifically the United States Navy, of which I am a member. Ten years ago, one could drop out of high school and join the Navy, perhaps enlisting in their apprenticeship program. Five years ago, you could drop out of high school and join the Navy, but only after you got your GED. Today, you can't join the Navy until you graduate high school. Unless you enlist in the Delayed Entry Program, like I did, where I joined when I was seventeen on a promise to graduate. Ten years from now, you won't be able to join the Navy as just an enlisted man(An E 1 Seaman Recruit like myself) without an Associate's Degree. The reason for this is because the Navy is becoming more and more high tech with every passing year. All the state of the art technology is almost immediately brought into application in the USN and they simply wouldn't trust that type of equipment in the hands of a high school drop out.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

. . . Arthur C. Clarke

What I'm getting at is the fact that an education can only help you. It sure doesn't hurt. Oh, maybe the process might seem monotonous, you may have a lousy teacher and you might even flunk out of every school you go to, but if you retain any knowledge from the overall experience, that's a plus in itself for you in the real world. Just being exposed to new ideas will give you a broader understanding of the way people from other cultures think and act or even people from across town. It will give you the tools with which you can find a common ground and establish meaningful dialogues to take you into the future together.

I feel I have made it very clear that in this day and age, you can't make it in the world without an education. So even though ignorance is bliss, it's also poverty and a recipe for spiritual emptiness.

BOY: Teach me what you know, Jim.

REVEREND JIM: That would take hours, Terry. Ah, what the heck! We've all got a little Obi Wan Kenobi in us.

. . . TAXI

Illusions Revisited

Written for my English 101 class that I took at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.

". . . Is this what you wanted to share with me?"

Daniel went back to the couch and sat down. Michelle joined him and waited for an answer. He took another sip from his glass and said, "No, Michelle. You see, before I go away to school, I want to share something very special with only one person. Someone that I was always very fond of but never very close to. You. I've kept this a secret all of my life. I've never written about it, in my journals or in a story. It's something very special and very beautiful. I want you to experience it."

"What is it?"

"Michelle, I want you to know what goes on in my mind. I want you to become part of me so you can know what my dreams are."

"I don't understand."

"You really don't have to." Daniel brushed some hair away from Michelle's forehead, allowing the fingers of his left hand to feel her hair's softness. Michelle closed her eyes and gently leaned her head toward Daniel's hand. He moved his hand to the back of her neck and let her lean against his shoulder. He placed his right arm around her and softly whispered in her ear, "Come with me, Michelle. Know my heart. Know my mind. Know my dreams."

* * *

Michelle felt as if she were floating on a giant lake. She looked and saw nothing but the purest white. She couldn't see Daniel, but she knew she was with him. She could feel his presence all around her. The whiteness around her seemed to open up. She saw a cloudy portal and looked through it. Here, was where Daniel's dreams were born . . .

From Dreamscapes © 1993 by Joseph L. Puente

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Albert Einstein

Come. Let me take your hand and we'll redefine the universe together.

Are you ready? We're going to take a little trip. We're going to visit my most favorite place in every dimension. . . every dimension.

Ah, here we are.

Full stop? Good. Helm, accelerate . . . now. You might feel a little crushed, but that's to be expected. Don't worry, you'll feel better later. While we're at it, let's lose the ship. Don't worry, I'll make sure you'll be okay. We really don't need a ship here, let alone bodies, but some people tend to be attached to them. But you don't need me talking. Just sit back, enjoy the ride. Enjoy the universe. . . this universe anyway.

There are glowing white points flashing past your head. They're galaxies, star clusters, suns, planets, moons, asteroids, spaceships, satellites, probes, people, spirits, gods. Time has been slowed down, just for you. You can travel the length and breadth of the universe in a millisecond if you wanted to, but you can't see much when you do it that way.

Through the corner of your eye, you see a pulsing light. It's pretty regular in its beat. Pulsar. It's surrounded by a few dead planets, their steel architecture long since vaporized during the final moments of the pulsar's previous life as an ordinary sun.

You feel like you're being crushed, don't you. Don't worry, we're just speeding up again. There's so much to see, you know.

Here's a friendly looking little sun. Its one populated planet has the cleverest people. And they have the most beautiful eyes in this part of the galaxy. They almost glow to the point that you can see them coming in the night. They live on the habitable half of their planet. The other half doesn't take to kindly to life. Sure there are a few insects that manage to survive there, but . . . well, let me take you there. . . ...............................

The sulfur stings as it penetrates the inside of your nose. There are a lot of these pockets on this side of the planet as well as a number of oases that manage to dilute the stench somewhat. Are your eyes beginning to water? Okay, we'll go, now.

I bet you've never traveled a hundred thousand lightyears so quickly in your life. Isn't this a beautiful place? Most completely forested planets are. Hold out your hand. You feel four soft little paws in your palm. You look down and you see a tiny little mammal, something like a cute rodent, but it begins to sing to you. A beautiful little tune that you may have been convinced was written by some famous and long dead composer. But all these creatures sing and each song is unique. Well, the sun has gone down. Before we leave, I want you look to the east and watch the galaxyrise. Beautiful isn't it? Very few planets are able to see a sight like this in the evening. The only real disadvantage to it is being over a thousand light years from the nearest star cluster within the Galaxy itself. Come, there's something brewing on the outer rim.

Will some races never learn? Look at them. Over a million "intelligent" life forms coming together to form perhaps the most destructive Armadas ever known in the Galaxy. Thousands of spaceships, loaded to the teeth with weapons, nuclear and antimatter weapons, lasers, Grasers, photon torpedoes or whatever you want to call them. By themselves, they won't do much. Put them in front of a destructive will and you've got hell to pay. Come, we'll let them play.

Here's another friendly looking, somewhat familiar sun. Middle aged, yellow, nine satellites. Some call this place Sol, some call it Terran, most call it Home.

As we fly passed the outer planets we come to a blue and green marble of a world. A single gray moon orbits it. Along with hundreds of artificial satellites. A few space stations, a couple of space shuttles, a Sanger, an X 30. Let's dive.

We're flying through the clouds at the speed of sound, just a constant blast pounding at our ears, but in this state that we're in, it's more pleasure than pain. Billowy mountains of whiteness rush by our heads. The picture starts to blur as we fall through the snow white canopy. Below us now is a rolling green carpet of trees and grass. We break a few branches as we lose altitude and follow a river. Before long, we come to a waterfall and plummet over the edge, we're caught up in the current for a moment, you only think you're wet, you only think you can't breath, but you remember the special state you're in. You're indestructible.

We follow the river some more until we come to a city. We go beyond it into a desert, past sand dunes and desert creatures to the shore of a great sea. Across its waves we fly, waving at ships and sea birds and we fall into its depths. We see gigantic schools of fish, sharks, submarines, whales. Tiny creatures like shrimp and single celled organisms. You feel yourself getting smaller, smaller, smaller. You're recognizing DNA, molecules, atoms. You've passed the outer cloud of an oxygen atom. You see protons, neutrons, electrons. You're getting even smaller, now. You're starting to recognize quarks.

I think we've seen enough of this. Any smaller and you'll discover that matter doesn't really exist, it's just a very complex setup of energy.

ZOOM OUT!!! Atom, cell, tissue, organ, organism, sea, desert, city, hello.


Let's take a look. A lonely house in a suburb, its lonely resident on the floor, a discharged gun in his hand. A young man stealing a kiss from the girl of his dreams, who happens to be committed to another. "I can't do this," says she. "Yes, you can," says he. A tragedy, a love affair, a birth, a life, a death. Human experiences taken entirely from imagination.

It's time to go, now. You have to meet someone.

The city shrinks to a shiny point on the dark side of this planet . . . Earth? Maybe, maybe not. Beyond the solar system, beyond the star cluster, beyond the galaxy, beyond the universe itself. Exit, wormhole, stage right.

Where are we? you ask. We are in the space between dimensions. From here, we can observe every universe. As the individual side of a polyhedron or the infinite number of bubbles connected to each other by tiny tubes . . . wormholes. There are many fascinating universes to visit. Some are virtual copies of our own, others are so different, they are beyond our ability to comprehend them. Though we might try. Take this strange universe for instance. In it, round objects will cut you like a razor blade. Message coming. It's time. He's called us.

See the tiny white universe over there? That's where we're going.

We're there. I'll leave you for now. Perhaps we can do this again sometime. Actually, I'm sure we will. He's behind the desk.

"Welcome to my mind."

"Your mind?" you ask.

"Of course. How else could I describe all those wonderful and frightening places to you? Experience?"

"'My most favorite place in every dimension . . . every dimension .'"



"Because I have no favorite place. Not in this universe. Not in this part of the space time continuum. At least I haven't found it yet. To tell you the truth, I don't think I want to find it. Any physical place, anyway."


"Because physical places have this nasty habit of ceasing to exist. What if your most favorite place in the world was a grove in a forest. A forest can be cut down, or burned, or both. All you have left is a memory."

"But isn't that the point of having a favorite place? So you can have memories."

"I created an entire galaxy once. It was a place where I could go to think. I've never physically been there, but I still have the memory.

"What if your favorite place is a beach? Ever hear of oil spills? A house or a building? Places get condemned, demolished. An amusement park? Same thing. No one can take away from me what always has been and always will be mine. My mind. The only way you can destroy that is to destroy me. And you can't even do that because my spirit is immortal.

"What about everything my mind has allowed me to do? I can put all these places I've created on paper. Sure, no one else can experience these places the way I experienced them, but I can share them with the rest of the world. That puts me in an interesting, and somewhat enviable, position. If anyone ever wants to go to these places, they have to come to me. And all I can do is tell them about it. That's the reality as opposed to the fantasy ability Daniel had in the opening story excerpt.

"Some other advantages include being able to go anywhere, anywhen, with anyone and doing anything. Frankly I have gone to a lot of places in many times and have done a lot of things with a lot of different people. Through my mind and onto paper I can do a lot of things that many people only wish they could do. If I want to kill myself, I do it on paper. No harm done, and there's a lot less pain for everyone else. It works for a lot of things, love, relationships, travel, revenge. Maybe I just want to talk. Suppose I want to have a discussion with Pascal, or Thomas Aquinas, Einstein, Socrates . . . Jesus.

"Maybe I want to talk to the person I'm going to marry years before we meet. Okay, maybe the person I would like to marry.

"The point is this. My favorite place is right behind my eyes, right between my ears, right inside my heart. My favorite place is in the center of the universe, as I view it. Or maybe even the center of many universes. What I've shown you today is just a small glimpse at what I've created. If I had a favorite room, I've only shown you a single tile in the corner of the floor."

Reality Check!

Welcome back. Did you enjoy your trip?