Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Behold my powers; and what's up with the hatin'?

So my friend recently sent me two definitions of "actuary". I feel as if it's only fair that you know what they are, seeing as how I was educated as one:

1) A professional statistician working for an insurance company. They evaluate your application and medical records to project how long you will live.

2) Actuaries are intensively educated and their knowledge is used in many different fields in order to predict future events based upon past occurrences.

Now I don't know about you, but I think these are pretty cool talents. I mean, sure, they aren't the Jedi mind trick or anything like that, but still...they fall just short of the gift of prophecy.

Although it actually IS the gift of prophecy...just based on historical trends. Hmmm... so that begs the question, if a prophecy is based on a liklihood, is it prophecy? Or does prophecy have to be a contrarian statement, which goes against the expected outcome (a virgin birth, the Cubs winning the World Series, etc)? Or, is prophecy only prophecy if it turns out to be correct? OR, is prophecy just the uttering of a "prophet"? And if so, what does it take to attain that status? To be correct about a few things? And if so to that, HOW MANY things do they have to be correct about to be considered a prophet? Because if you tell me one only needs to get a certain PERCENTAGE of things correct to be considered a "prophet"...then I'm going to show you how an actuary qualifies!!!

How cool is that? I was educated, intensively, as a prophet. This truly is a Yahoo! News day for me.

Oh, and as far as me projecting how long you will live...I'd recommend that you just don't fill in the questionnaire that I will be distributing over the next few weeks.

Speaking of how long you will live...why do people have so much negative energy about Into the Wild? I guess I don't get why some people have such a strong reaction towards Chris. Do I think the story "glorifies" that lifestyle? Or celebrates him as a Thoreau or Whitman-like character? Well, in the sense that there IS some beauty in pursuing a passion...sure. And the fact that when you are cut away from the many stressors that are a part of our society, that lack of psychic tension sometimes leads to a a kind of "grace". It's like allowing the Universe to fill in the space. And what you experience and learn in that space can be very beautiful and meaningful.

However, I don't think the story glorifies his life in any sense beyond that. Clearly he was woefully unprepared. And clearly he made some serious mistakes. So did he, in some way, bring about his own death? Absolutely. I don't think we need to view Chris as a martyr to be able to cherish the passion of his search. Or to recognize that there is a potential search to be had in the first place. It is the classic story, the epic adventure...written all over the annals of human history.

I guess what I find most crazy is why people CARE so much in the first place. Live and let live, I say. I know that for me, I have so much going on in my own life that I wouldn't know where to begin in the judging of his life. ..or in the telling of it.

By the way, if you happen to be one of my friends, and you have this particular take on Into the Wild, I can assure you this is not an attack on you per se. It just seems like I have met a number of people with the same strong emotion about the whole thing.

I need to stop writing so late at night. Sometimes I will pause in my typing and next thing I know I catch myself with my eyes closed and my head nodding. Ooops!

In closing...sometimes (ok, lots of times) songs really grab my attention. Today it was the Cure. Enjoy:

i hear her voice
calling my name
the sound is deep
in the dark
i hear her voice
and start to run
into the trees
into the trees

suddenly i stop
but i know it's too late
i'm lost in a forest
all alone
the girl was never there
it's always the same
i'm running towards nothing
again and again and again
and again and again and again


Pat said...

Tim - i also do not understand the overly negative stance on Chris and Into The Wild. As you know, I loved that book and cannot wait to pick up the movie. I find it an odd thing to get worked up about - people die all the time from mistakes, accidents, or tragedy... you never know when your time is up, and the only thing we really get to control in this world is how we life our day to day life. I have nothing but respect for someone who stepped outside of the grid and lived in a way that they could be comfortable with. Much more respect than people who live for 80 years and never realize a dream or are happy with themselves. So, I say... stop being so forgiving, if you've got friends who disagree - cut them lose as friends!!! (just kidding...)

tyler said...

Why all the meditation on death, Tim?

You mention your ability to predict how long a person will live, and then ponder the forcefulness of people's reactions to the death of a young man in the wild?

Does the quality or grace of a person's life get weighed in the actuarial equations at any point?

How would you factor grace into an equation?