Pattern and purpose:
One of my great childhood pleasures was when Daddy would read to us with his marvelous voice.  He would play little games.  While reading a book Pogo, not the exquisite opossum of cartoon land but the little pet dog of boy who was traveling though the West with his family learning about gold mining.  At one point Daddy is like, “Mother said, ‘I’ve been picking blackberries and I got bit by a rattlesnake and here I am dead.’ … no that’s not what it says.”  The words in italics were of his own invention.  He read us Kipling’s Jungle Book.  There was a story about a mongoose and it’s vendetta with the cobras Nag and Nagaina.  He pronounced all four vowels in her name. 

Well in the story, during the grand penultimate battle between the mongoose and the great cobra Nag, the mongoose has a fair bite on the cobra’s neck and the snake is trying to thrash him to death.  The mongoose thought he would probably die but he made up his mind that he would be found with his jaws locked on his prey like a proper mongoose.

Sometimes we do things for a purpose.  Sometimes we are just going through the form, just following the pattern.  Don’t sell following the pattern short.  It may have saved my life once.  As a novice motorcycle rider I was cruising in southern Spain more years ago than you need know.  As I approached a little town suddenly there were brick walls about ten feet high just at the edge of each side of the road.  I was in a world of pavement, brick, sky and the reverberations of my mighty machine.  A novice will, as I did, tend to try to go around corners by leaning into the turn and keeping the motorcycle upright.  A more experience rider will ride as if welded to the machine, leaning with it; this is far more efficient. 

After a few disorienting minutes between walls I say that the road ahead was going to turn sharply.  In retrospect the walls were probably there because so many people ran off the road.  The turn was going to be sharp enough so I told myself that this time for sure I was going to do it right.  If I was going to die, I was going to die welded to my machine in proper form.

The turn was sharp and got a lot sharper as I got into part I had not been able to see ahead.  Then it went over a high arched stone bridge across a river and then snapped back to other direction to follow the other bank.  My foot pegs threw sparks on both sides, but I made it.  Thank you, little mongoose.  Sometimes forget the plan.  Just go with the pattern. 

If fact over the years I spent a lot of time running the pattern.  Maybe the pattern seems silly.  Don’t worry about that.  Just go with it.  That has been my style much of the time.

But life is different now.  I have been doing some wet lab work pursuant of my central interest.  I’ll tell you about it maybe next year.  Suffice it to say that it involves a lot of repetitious work.  It’s a lot like following a form.  But this time I am doing something practical.  I have a purpose.  I have something I am trying to find out.  Nobody has ever gone this way before.  Nobody knows exactly what to do.  I’ve tried things before that were new but not to the extent that I am trying now.  And I really don’t know where it ends.


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