90,000 Miles to Me

33,733 Miles • When Halfway Done is Wholly Right

I’m heading back to New Mexico to get some physical therapy for my shoulder. A pinched nerve has been getting worse over the last several months and is now very painful and limiting my range of motion considerably. I’ve been hoping it would work itself out, but sadly that has not been the case.

So instead of heading north in hopes of sighting the Arora Borealis in northern Minnesota, I’m heading to the Southwest where my medical insurance is accepted. Sigh.

In driving the opposite direction as I had intended, I’m reminding myself that this Journey is not about traveling, it’s about getting all of me well. The traveling is a means, not an end, and right now, my shoulder needs some loving care.

Driving through Nebraska, highway 80 seems a lot more interesting than usual. Maybe it’s the time of year, as there is a lot more green than I’m used to seeing when I drive through, or maybe it’s my new inner openness responding more deeply to subtle beauty, but even the rolling hills seem more interesting. Trees dotting the landscape, grass blowing in the wind, cows standing in fields and one standing in a shallow lake, ripples of water on the lake.

On my way to New Mexico, I stopped at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was nice to feel able to stop in briefly and not have to (for internal reasons) commit to a half day or more to justify going at all.

Even with my ASTC membership, which gets me into the museum for free, I would not have even considered spending only an hour or two there, even if it were convenient, free, and interesting. I would have focused on what I would be missing out on rather than what I could get out of it.

I know this for a fact because I’ve skipped plenty of interesting museums because I didn’t have enough time—four or five hours, at least.

My new inner openness is so much easier to live with. 🙂

So I spent about two hours in the space hall, and instead of reading every sign, I got into a conversation with one of the volunteer docents and had a really nice, intelligent talk about the planets and solar system. I felt free enough to play with a new concept I’ve been introduced to recently, Beginner’s Mind, and actually admit, to myself as much as to anyone else, that I don’t know the things that I don’t know and not feel inadequate because of that. Or need to show off the things that I do know in order to make up for the things that I don’t know. 

Sometimes familiarity with a topic gives the illusion of knowing more of it than is really the case, but if I actually want to learn more, I have to be open to acknowledging that I may not know even something presented in a public museum geared toward youth. Sure, I’ll readily admit that I don’t know much of the advanced scientific literature, but this has been a harder pill to swallow. And you know what? Without my ego threatening to self-destruct if I were caught not knowing everything about our solar system, I actually had a really good time and learned a lot and enjoyed the process!

They also had a simulator (read: computer game) where the player could place planets in a mock solar system and, based upon size and mass, it would adjust their orbits according how their gravity would affect each other. I managed to get the small inner planets and the astroid belt stable, with nothing running into each other, but when I added any of the gas giants, or many of them to try and balance each other out, all the planets ran into each other, one by one. So I tried to make a stable system with just the gas giants and couldn’t. Adding an extra sun to make a binary system, just for fun, sucked everything into it’s gravity well, including Jupiter, which is 1,000 times the size of Earth but still 1,000 times smaller than the Sun.

Then I went up to the observation deck on the roof where an amateur astronomer had his telescope set up with a special filter to look at the Sun.

As I left the museum after only two hours, having had a really good time, I realized that there are times when doing something halfway is wholly right.

I kept my museum admission ticket to remind me of this.

Heading south, I saw this sign:

  • Gary’s Log Furniture and Mattresses – are the mattresses made of logs as well?

After several more hours of driving, I arrived home, tired but content. The next morning I went to see the doctor and got a referral to PT, which starts Monday.

On the New Moon, I wanted to do some stargazing, and drove out of the city to get away from the lights. I found the square of Pegasus! I’ve only found two or three other constellations before entirely on my own, so I’m proud and happy about this. I got really excited when I was able to pick it out and definitively identify it with my night sky maps. Yay for Beginner’s Mind and for hobbies!

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