Monthly Maunder: January 2019

Let’s talk about starting over. Because, for better or worse, that’s what January has come to mean for many people. New beginnings. Fresh starts. The troubles of the past have passed, and a new twelve months lie in wait.

I’ve never really prescribed to the notion of “resolutions.” Like everyone, each year I strive to eat better, sleep better, save better, do better. But making a hard promise to reach a goal or goals? Nah.

Maybe I should strive to be less flaky.

Inconceivable!, as one poet might say.

While I like the romantic notion of the “fresh start,” I’ve never seen much difference between December 31st and January 1st. There’s no magic eraser that makes everything better. Can you imagine what life would actually be like if that were the case?

Sounds like an idea for Black Mirror.

So I guess I don’t want to talk about “starting over” at all. Hmm. So much for the idea of these “maunder” posts being a monthly journal of sorts. Because I’m off to a flying start.

It also means that whatever I type in the remainder of this space will likely not have much structure. Fair warning if your resolution was to be more organized.

Over the holidays, we started watching Blue Planet II, and I gotta say…it’s stunning. I loved the original series, and the second one, so far, is putting it to shame. I literally have no words for just how amazing it is. Two big thumbs up, and I highly recommend it, whether you’re into nature shows or not. Truly, its cinematography alone towers above most big-budget films.

Do you remember Wild America with Marty Stouffer? That was one of my most favorite shows as a kid. In fact, I used to pour over anything about animals, from books to TV to movies. I had this one animal encyclopedia that I loved to read. I can’t remember its name, but it had pictures of all the continents and “all” the animals each one contained. It was where I first learned that there were elephants in both Africa and Asia, a fact that blew my little-kid mind.

I also remember going through a similar dinosaur phase, but it didn’t stick with me as much as learning about living things.

If I resolve to do anything this year, it’s to revisit that obsession with nature. Going to the park, hiking, and all that, sure. But I’m fascinated with just how much more of the natural world there is to see and learn about, thanks to technology and the patient people behind it. Within the constant negative stream of “this planet is going to shit,” nature still finds a way to persevere, even under the worst circumstances (not always, sadly, but mostly). It’s…well…it’s inspiring.

Guess Netflix is still good for something, because it does contain some cool nature shows, like Blue Planet and Blue Planet II.

Concurrent to this, is a rekindled interest science shows, as well. And I mean more than just Bill Nye Saves the World, which is perfectly awesome.

Would you believe me when I say that I was once pretty good at math and science? Being firmly entrenched in the humanities for so long, I almost don’t believe it myself, but it’s true. In fact, for several school years, my math and science grades were much better than the ones I pulled in language arts and social studies. Only then, physics (in high school) and calculus (in college) killed my spirit. I was absolutely terrible in both, and from it I came to believe that I’d never find a place in either math or science. But I was always okay in history, hence…life now.

Oh, I’m not upset, believe me. I live with a person who is skilled in both science theory and math, and our minds are not alike.

And yet, if you set me in front of a math and/or science program, one that doesn’t talk down to its viewers and is engaging on a simple but not simplistic level, I’m enthralled.

I miss that feeling of wonder. Being enchanted with how much math informs our lives, and how much science has changed it.

I’m not interested in starting over this year. Instead, I want this year to be about new/old discoveries through the lens of picking up where I left off so many years ago, with that kid who wanted to be a zookeeper or a geometrist.

It’s not a resolution, but it sounds like a good thing to do.

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