It’s a rainy Wednesday morning here in Texas, and I’m sniffly and grumpy. Talking with an old mentor of mine last night, he told me that the best way to recover from a research heartbreak is rest and lots of good sex. I’m three days away from being able to put that plan into action, and I can’t wait. After diagnosing myself with mild depression, I’m eager to see if some time away from academic science restores my sense of aliveness, my sense of joy.
In the meantime, Paul loaned me his copy of The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan. I love it. This book might also be a good prescription for a heart broken by science. The editor’s introduction by Ann Druyan moved me to tears, and I thought I’d share a passage from it today.
“His argument was not with God but with those who believed that our understanding of the sacred had been completed. Science’s permanently revolutionary conviction that the search for truth never ends seemed to him the only approach with sufficient humility to be worthy of the universe it revealed. The methodology of science, with its error-correcting mechanism for keeping us honest in spite of our chronic tendencies to project, to misunderstand, to deceive ourselves and others, seemed to him the height of spiritual discipline. If you are searching for sacred knowledge and not just a palliative for your fears, then you will train yourself to be a good skeptic….For him, science was, in part, a kind of ‘informed worship.’ No single step in the pursuit of enlightenment should ever be considered sacred; only the search was.”
Beautiful, no? Only the search is sacred. Maybe that’s true of all our seeking.