in college we studied quantum theory a little and one day visited the particle accelerator in los alamos, nm. this contraption is something like ¾ of a mile long, originating in a large complex of buildings whose purpose is to strip an electron off a hydrogen atom and then send the nucleus and a few other particles tumbling at close to the speed of light towards another complex of buildings in which there is a VERY special kind of observation camera, which in itself looks like a 12 headed alien. this particular camera investigates neutrons, which can fall easily at very high velocities through concrete, steel and granite, yet can be stopped by certain plastics and foam. the complex as a whole is an nuclear accelerator and nuclei are investigated and tortured there. that is, the interior of the nucleus is under examination. in order to examine the nucleus, the other particles (like electrons) must get stripped away from this intense magnetic center. i remember vividly exploring the upper chamber there where the electrons are removed: a dramatic room, clad entirely in stainless steel, behind thick glass, held huge cylindrical towers also made of stainless steel and they were arcing to the walls of the room, lighting bolt-thick ropes of electrical arc which resounded throughout everybody’s business… and we were guided by a real large man, reg, who was dressed like a farmer, plaid woolen shirt and overalls, a Ph.D. physicist, specializing in atomic physics (not to be confused with nuclear physics). he told us, “i can tell you how we get the electron off the atom… that’s what we do up here… but don’t ask me about the nucleus, i have no idea what goes on in that thing… you’ll have to go ask one of the gentlemen below.” it was so impressive to me that the farmer of this place was just the guy who removed the electron and the real city boys were downtown, looking at nuclei…
not too long ago a friend counseled me in a business matter… a particular matter which had a dubious ending and which offered a little stress… i shared this with him and he shed the problem like feather in a shower of rain and later on that night sent me an email with a picture of himself standing in water shin deep with a spiral of white rocks sitting on the ocean floor around his feet, spiraling into to himself. the note attached to this read, “don’t spin out…. spin in.”
i was remembering both of these nice experiences this morning with respect to some things that have been going on and i realized how closely related they are. that is, just how much power lies within us. the electrical paths arcing through our bodies are so ornate and lively… and the power there is so infinite compared to what we could effect trying to push stones around at arm’s length.
inside of one hydrogen atom (the lightest one), the energy inherent in the bond between the single electron and the nucleus is enough energy to accomplish the work required to lift one ton of concrete two meters off the ground! one atom. that is just the bond between the magnetic center and its little electron. the bond holding the nucleus itself together is MUCH more powerful. each of us has several billion of these units within us. how much less useful to spin out, into the region we have no control over… rather than internally, where the power is a billion fires burning at a billion hearths within castles surrounded by field after field of ripe nutrient, armies to serve us, monks praying for us and gods contemplating our destinies…
planes are taking off, people are moving frantically to and fro, looking for themselves, for an answer… when all that is required is a glance within, and then another glance, and then a long look… leading to an examination of oneself, of one’s makeup… and to surrender to this, to oneself, is a way to change the world… to change the way others reflect ourselves to us, and the way we reflect them back to them.