40 Days – Day 4: Heroes of Old, the Men of Renown

Day 4: Cycling: 3 miles in 13 minutes; Eddington Number = 2.

Day 4: Weights: 22 minutes. 20 sets, 149 reps, 16,270 lb. Eddington Number (tons) = 4

I woke up with a terrible headache and thought moving around would make it go away—it didn’t. Gym was really tough as a result.

Day 3: Bible (Genesis 5-6)

Adam’s lineage—boring—until Genesis 5:22-4, where Enoch walked with God for 300 years, and then “he was no more, for God took him.” It first calls to mind God “moving about in the Garden during the breezy time of day” in 3:8, both being a time when God was strolling around, not up in the heavens, not sitting on throne, but out and about with folks. Second, this line seems to waver on the point of spiritual existence—it’s as if the language doesn’t exist to describe what happens at death. Everyone else so far is mentioned as having died, but this is the first elaboration. First, “he was no more”—which means Enoch’s body is not Enoch. Then, “for God took him”—which means God took the Enoch that was the true Enoch, which is not his body. So, is there a spirit? Or, if “he was no more”—does it mean that by taking him, he was truly no more, he lacked existence, both of body and spirit. I think the argument could go either way, except that there’s no previous evidence in the text to support the existence of a soul. Rather, it’s more like God breathed life into the dust to form man, and then inhaled it back out—the spirit being nothing more than the exhalation of God.

While I was waiting for Mincha to begin, it occurred to me that I’d read it entirely wrong—Enoch only lived about one-third of the length of those before him. He walked with God, and then God took him; Enoch never died. God simply made him disappear by taking him. It’s a reasonable misreading though, I think, because his life is still measured in days, which would lead me to guess that if the days of one’s life stop progressing, then he’s dead! Rather, he’s been lifted out of time, and since God creates time (the alternation between day and night) in Genesis 1, then here we have more evidence that God lives outside time, and once he took Enoch, Enoch also was outside time.

This, along with God’s reference to himself in the plural, is the sort of mystical writing I’d love to learn more about, things that average people long ago were comfortable with to the extent that elaboration was unnecessary. Plenty of names here, I’m under the assumption are names representing groups of people or places—I used to know the word for this…eponym! So, Enoch perhaps meant more at one point, and, further, stories about him and corresponding mysticism was likely more widely understood.

In Genesis 6 we reach another one of these mystical questions, being the divine beings of 6:2 and the Nephilim of 6:4. I’m not going to question either of these, since there’s no conclusive view on the subjects. In short, either angels mated with humans and produced a race of giants, or the children of Seth (being divine) mated with the children of Cain (being cursed). I guess it doesn’t make much difference, because in the end someone made the giants. And they, being called the “heroes of old, the men of renown” remind me of those same heroes of Greek mythology, who, as far back as we can trace, were always heroes from long ago, when humans and gods spent more time together.

I find it interesting that God feels regret (7:6), which is only possible within time. That is, if God had the foresight to know man would become wicked, he would not later feel regret when it came to pass.

Lastly, Noah also walked with God—like Enoch—and what that means, I have no idea, except there’s one other parallel: while Enoch escaped death, Noah escaped the fate of the rest of the wicked world. The flood, perhaps, was the equivalent of the watery void that was the world in Genesis 1, where time doesn’t exist.

Day 3: Vitamins

Makes me feel sick.


40 Days – Day 3: Large-Scale Horrors Are Usually Okay

sunrise-meditationDay 3: Cycling: 2 miles in 9 minutes; Eddington Number = 2.

Day 3: Weights: 28 minutes. 9,670 lb. Eddington Number (tons) = 3

Day 1: Meditation: Art of Living

Can barely stay awake. So bored. Mind wanders.

Day 2: Bible (Genesis 3-4)

I never noticed how tragic this chapter is, and how plainly written. How is the serpent shrewd? He asked a question that he knew would lead to a discussion. “You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?” And then everyone blames each other and God punishes the whole lot of them. Just last night we were discussing how nobody in the banking industry was punished for wickedness leading up to the financial crisis, simply because as long as you can blame someone else, you’re in good shape. Also war criminals this works for. Not average people doing average wrong-doings, but large-scale horrors are usually okay. It’s all in the bible!

The the tree of good/evil interests me because it leads back to wondering what it means to be made in God’s image. If man had no concept of ethics prior to eating from the tree, then “God’s image” doesn’t mean free-will…it literally means we look like God. The “God’s image” bit is part of Genesis 1, though—whereas chapters 2 and 3 seem to be in another storyline.

People say the tree has something to do with sex, since Adam and Eve feel shame after eating it. So perhaps it’s not that they ate fruit, but rather that they had sex, which leads to creation, which is God’s job? But no, since God told them to be fruitful and multiply. So it may just be that eating the fruit led to self-awareness.

Another part I like is that the writing quickly explains the transition from nomadic to agricultural societies. God plants the Garden of Eden, where man can just gather food, and then banishes man to till the soil for food—which requires settling down. So, it’s historically accurate here also. Apparently, Jews generally believe that Eden is a metaphorical, not actually a place, although I once learned that Alexander the Great visited the gates and spoke to the cherubim with their flaming swords.

Lastly, I think it’s beautiful that God, after banishing man from Eden, makes clothes for Adam and Eve. It’s also the first time that an animal is killed in history—and it’s for the sake of clothes. He still cares for his favorite creations, even after punishing them, like a parent.

The next chapter begins with Cain and Abel. So many questions. I always mixed Cain and Abel up, because I assumed the manlier of the two would deal with the animals, and thereby know how to kill another man. Why did God pay no heed to Cain’s offering? That’s where all the problems begin. Like most of our prayers, God ignored them, which led to Cain feeling distraught. God comes down and talks with him, telling him he’ll feel better if he’ll do right, which I can only take to mean that what matters to God is not your churchiness in church, but your churchiness in life.

There’s another possibility I’m curious about though—which is that Cain enjoys being a farmer. In the previous chapter, the curse on Adam was that he’d have to become a farmer. One generation later, Cain’s actually enjoying the curse. Abel, on the other hand, is tending to the flocks, which is still in line with what God had put man in charge of in Eden—being in charge of the animals.

I begin to side with Cain, because it seems like he couldn’t really win. He’s farming, by order/curse of God, while Abel is shepherding, by order of God. God punishes Cain by making it so he can’t be a farmer anymore, which makes Cain so unhappy that he becomes suicidal. This seems to catch God off guard, so he puts a mark on Cain so that nobody murders him. I’m not sure who would murder him, seeing as there’s only three people on earth now, but Cain is sent off to wander the earth ceaselessly. Also this is the plight of the Israelites and the Jewish people in general—which is a sort of disheartening parallel. If the purpose of these early stories are to contrast God’s elegant creation of the world with our ability to really mess it up, it’s a point well made. Cain’s descendants include all nomads, musicians, and blacksmiths. Also disheartening.

Lamech, one of his descendants then recites a strange bit of poetry to his wives. We know it’s poetry because it has pairs of lines, the second restating the first in each case. What this means is that neither of the lines is to be taken literally since each is supposed to mean the same thing. Did he actually slay a man for wounding him and slay a lad for bruising him? Or is this metaphorical? And what of his math on Cain being avenged sevenfold (in case of his murder), and himself seventy-sevenfold?

It brings back to mind what the perspective on the soul is: it’s not really so important. The breath of god gives us life. From dust we were formed, to dust we return. After death, there’s nothing but dust. And that is why Cain’s punishment is to wander the earth—because he can only be punished within his lifetime. To kill him for killing Abel would not be a punishment because he would not experience it. So, back to Lamech—I wonder if what he says is not a lament, but a boast. You thought Cain was bad? I’m worse. And it perhaps provides an answer to why good things happen to bad people: God plans on punishing them sometime.

Adam steps back into the picture, thank God, and produces another son: Seth. Things are looking up.

Day 2: Vitamins

Makes me feel sick.

40 Days – Day 2 (cycling, weights, Gen. 1-2, vitamins)

cebu, philippinesDay 2: Cycling: 2 miles in 9 minutes; Eddington Number = 1.

Day 2: Weights: 25 minutes. 17 sets, 163 reps, 15,045 lb. Eddington Number (tons) = 2

Day 1: Bible (Genesis 1-2)

I used to know a lot of this verse by heart . . . . It appeals to a scientific look at the world because it’s more or less accurate in classifying things by complexity. It’s easy to breeze over in search of a few keywords. Earth is null and void. Got it. Light, darkness. Got it. But really it’s not null-ness or void-ness that’s being described, but an infinite (or long?) stretch of water and darkness—with God as a wind. To imagine myself deposited in this universe, floating in this black water, where I can’t see a thing, and if I sink I drown, and if I swim in any direction, everything is infinitely the same in every direction—it’s the most horrifying description of isolation I can imagine. And then God switches on the light, and produces some alternation between the two. So now we can count the evenings and mornings, which means that the existence of time is established. This is the part I find most fascinating. God goes on to create the rest of things, plants, fish, birds, animals, man—nothing out of the ordinary here. But then the narrator turns a bit unreliable.

Chapter 2 begins by switching up Chapter 1—suddenly, we’re back to no plants because there’s no man to till them; I thought the plants all set by day 3, and man didn’t show up for another few days. And didn’t God create male and female on the same day, day 6? But now it’s unclear on that point. Things just don’t line up from one chapter to the next. I don’t care about inconsistencies though—I’ll take it for what it is at any given moment.

And this, I think may be an important way to live right now. . . . The bible says—here’s the creation story. Also, here’s another creation story. They’re both correct.—and what am I to do? Accept them for what they are.

Day 1: Vitamins

Fish oil, DHEA, Gingko, and a multivitamin. They make me feel sick.

40 Days – Day 1 (cycling, weights, meditation)

57B33879-FE30-337E-47F9-A5A50A238B1D-72618I need to kickstart my first 40 days, so I’m doing seven things. One would be enough—but I feel like I don’t have time for just one . . . and I’m afraid I need a real boost this first 40 days. I don’t enjoy any of these things. Cardio makes me feel sick, weights are boring, meditation is boring, synagogue/bible makes me feel uncomfortable and bored, I don’t like swallowing vitamins . . . because I don’t like eating things.

Day 1: Cycling: 1 mile in 4 minutes; Eddington Number = 1.

I never do cardio. I have a trainer who told me I don’t eat enough to do much of it. He tells me I should eat more. I don’t. So I don’t do cardio. That’s the excuse I use. One mile should be easy—it was tough. There was a woman next to me really working hard, probably going a hundred miles. I used one of those video game bikes. I don’t know if 1 mile in 4 minutes is good or not, but I went the mile and then ran off to write down my numbers.

Day 1: Weights: 37 minutes. 20 sets, 148 reps, 6086 lb.

I go to the gym about once a week—tops. Every couple of weeks I go to my trainer. I don’t improve much. Today I was actually down since the last time I went—I can’t remember how long ago it was that I went, maybe a couple weeks. I listen to the news, stop at Starbucks on the way home and get a breakfast sandwich, go home and drink a protein shake.

Day 1: Meditation: Art of Living

I signed up for Art of Living my senior year of college. . . .  I didn’t keep up with it—they say if you do it for 40 days in a row you’ll have some revelation. The members of Art of Living are sort of cultish—they don’t believe in being troubled. You can say “I have troubles” and they don’t understand. It sounds awful or insensitive, but it’s somewhat beautiful, because you can see these modern, functioning human beings who have dealt with their problems through meditation. And if you can’t find a little time each day to do the same, then you’re the ridiculous one.

But it’s intensely boring. Focusing on my breathing. My mind wanders. And when I get to the meditation portion, I begin falling asleep. I dream when I’m still awake, so I know when I’m falling asleep—I begin seeing bizarre visions, and I wake myself up. I’m supposed to solidify my negative feelings and breathe them out. I can’t—because I can’t concentrate.

I totally missed the rest [of my goals]. Synagogue I woke up too late for. I didn’t eat any real meals at home, so I used that as an excuse to skip vitamins. . . .

All in all, doing these things felt like a waste of time.