Favorite Quotes from my Journals

Age 19 to 37

Copyright © 1970..2003, . All rights reserved.

A few times in my life, I have set aside time to sit down and review my entire life’s journals. The last time I did this was on my 4-month road trip after finishing my PhD in 1991. I think the journals took up three or four file boxes in the trunk of my car at the time. As I plowed through and contemplated my life experience to that moment, I took note of things that I had written that I particularly enjoyed. Here is a selection of what I compiled. Those that are special favorites are highlighted.

Technical note: Dates in the left-hand column are in “Ennex date format” of “yyyy mm dd”, with a range shown by short ellipsis of “..”. So “1978 10 11..12” means “October 10 through 11, 1978” and “1978 10..11” means “October to November 1978”.

By the way, it became clear to me then in 1991 that that would be the last time I would do a complete review of the journals. They have become just too voluminous to be worth the effort anymore. But I’m very glad for the times that I have done it because it is a wonderful way to get to know one’s self better. I’ll still be doing periodic reviews of portions of the journals.

Favorite Quotes from my Journals

1973 12 07Growing up is a creative, selective activity for me.

1974 01 06The best things in life are beyond expression. They are present in the universe by the accident of creation, and may be felt or passed by at the choice of the beholder. They may not be transferred from one to another, or held jealously for one to own.

The saddest thing in life is that ultimately, the most important communication is impossible. To give love to one who is lonely, hope to one who fears, joy to one imploding with depression, for communication needs an open, operative receiver. [An untitled collection of disjoint (or not so disjoint) thoughts describing the mind of a commercial poet]

1974 06 18I don’t know why it’s meaningful to preserve my thoughts, but it does some kind of good.

1974 08 01Love is recognizing that you are loved. [cf 1982 12 27]

1974 10 21You can’t rest on your laurels. (Not unless they pay substantial dividends.)

1975 12 05The four virtues: humility, grace, vigor and joy. [Did I get this from somewhere else?]

1976 10 29My friends will probably be serious people, with a special sense of humor, with intelligence and with respect and compassion for all life. And maybe one day I’ll meet someone less serious than the rest, with a different sense of humor and a different sort of intelligence, but with the same respect and compassion. That is when I’ll fall in love.

1976 11 or 12Self-discipline is knowing what you want. [to Jeffey]

1977 01 07It does not seem that I will ever take a career.

1977 07 18I climbed to the top of a tree today, and when I got to the top, I was all alone.
I climbed my way out of a hole tonight, and when I looked back in, it was empty.
I lived a lifetime the other day, and when it was all over, I died.

1977 10 11There are two cures for misery. One is deciding that life is worth living. The other is deciding it’s not.

1978 08 31Quantum mechanics is difficult for the same reason that Shakespeare is difficult. But it’s more rewarding because instead of adjusting to the language of the past, you have to adjust to the language of the future. [Preface, Introductory Quantum Mechanics (Draft 3)]

1978 11 12..13The cynic says, “Because I am insignificant, why should I bother?” The enlightened man says, “Because I am insignificant, how can it hurt if I try?”

As a cynic, I would point to a stinking reality and say, “It stinks.” So they would plug their noses and go away. But when I was an enlightened man, I would jump up and down and say, “Look. it’s wonderful!” And they would say, “Shut up. We’re busy.” [Letter to Henry Fenigstein]

1979 SpringLogic can only be used to prove things to people who already believe they are true. [On physics and encyclopedias]

1980 04 20I am a salesman and manufacturer of an intangible product, with no wasteful byproducts. The product satisfies a real, basic need instead of artificial, neurotic needs. It actually satisfies the one need that most advertising promises, and fails, to satisfy.

1981 08 13I don’t need to be them in order to be the best me. [about facilitators Rob and Dorothea, Reflections on the Advocate Experience]

1981 08 14I allowed myself to have my feelings, and I allowed the others to have their feelings, without making it necessary for us to concur. I allowed myself to feel good while the world around me was suffering. [Reflections on the Advocate Experience]

1982 11 13“Affirmation without discipline is a joke.” — James Rohn
Discipline without nourishment is suicide.

1982 12 18I would like to be fun to be with, but I don’t know if this is important.

1982 12 19Support is an illusory method of spreading out the pleasure and burden of responsibility, but it is only a game, for fun. The truth is we do it alone.

And of course the other truth is we never do anything alone. This is not a paradox. We are, each of us, the whole universe. We do it alone and we do it together. Support is an illusion because it looks like it comes from another. But there is no “other”. We are one.

1982 12 27Loneliness is that state of being defined by non-appreciation of others due to non-appreciation of oneself. [cf 1974 08 01]

1983 01 04Discipline is more than working-instead-of-playing, and encompasses also how I work. Discipline determines not only the quantity of (i.e. time spent on) work, but also the style of my work, its efficiency.

1983 01 11Celebration is an acknowledgement of completion, which means that one is again at the beginning.

1983 01 13Self-discipline is knowing what I want. It is also being enough in love with myself to demand that I get it.

1983 01 21I am enjoying my work: deriving satisfaction in it. But I am departing from humanity to do it.

1983 09 13If physics is the study of the causal relationships of motions, and if motion is the change of distance relationships, then physics is the study of the dynamics of topology.

What happens, at the most fundamental level of the topology of our universe, when a distance relationship changes? Is there a topological difference between inertial motion and motion described as arising from a force? What is the status of the concept of distance within a system which is shielded from interaction (i.e., unobserved)? [What would I like to know?]

1983 11 02If one compares an atom to an automobile hygrometer, are its electrons (and likewise its protons and neutrons) more like the little plastic balls, or more like the water? [Questions for Dr. Wheeler]

1984 04 24Is there a difference between total order and total disorder? [Conversation with Chris Fuchs]

1984 04 28There is a hidden process in motion, capable of being mechanized, as sound waves and visual images are translated into electromagnetic signals. [Roadside thots]

1984 05 31my smile, laughter & singing—This may be my most important, favorite, possession.

the allegiance of God and the universe—This may be tied for most important possession. [What do I have]

1984 10 11I wonder if I can tell the difference between intense intellectual longing and sadness about personal relationships. [letter not sent to David B. Goodstein]

1984 10 11If people can relate to each other and develop systems of dealing with unanalyzable human behavior, is it possible that there are ways to control the behavior of subatomic particles, ways which are not subject to or developed from analysis? But where does one look to find such a technique? In an ashram in India? If they are not subject to or developed from analysis, what are they subject to and developed from? Hocus pocus? [letter not sent to David B. Goodstein]

1984 10 10, 11 07This course seems as much like the statement of an enormous question as a collection of answers. [letter to Mom and Dad, referring to course on quantum field theory by Steven Weinberg]

1984 12 23Why am I working on something impossible? Because something which is impossible today will not always be impossible. And because I want to change it from being impossible. [letter to Tiran Ralin, foster child chez Mom and Dad]

1985 01 01I am so happy that when I entered the therapy group at school for an opportunity to give vent to my emotions, the therapists seemed more concerned about my happiness than anything else.

1985 05 18If I’m not touching, learning or teaching, I’d rather be alone.

Nobody else appreciates my ideas, believes in me, laughs at my jokes, or criticizes my faults, as well as I do. [My reality]

1985 10Last night, in the bar with my neighbor Paul, I made some response to him; it was a question, but my tongue slipped and it came out garbled, meaningless. Paul answered, “That’s right.” and went right on talking. I wonder if we ever communicate anything, or if we just titillate each other’s ear drums and resonate to trains of sound that we recognize.

1985 12 24It is time for me to become creative, to take the essence of my learning and shape it into something that has never existed before. [letter to Uncle Marvin]

1986 08 14[My commitment to teleportation] is the commitment of a person lost in the desert, committed to walking towards civilization, but not knowing which way to walk. … Is that still commitment? Can a person who is lost be committed?

1988 05 31I want to plan to give myself a sense of direction again in my work, so I can roll down the window and stick my head out and feel the breeze of discovery. [letter to David Hulme]

1988 06 27I don’t know what my ultimate lifestyle will be. Judging from my past, I may never have an ultimate lifestyle, may go on changing and growing until I die, or I may find something that satisfies and rewards me sufficiently to supplant my itch for changing. [Reflections on session with Dr. Hill]

1988 12 11As Japan and Western Europe have regained technological and financial status rivaling our own (which they have done by advancing the wealth of the entire planet, not by impoverishing or subjugating us), we can benefit by accepting our position as partners in the development of civilization, instead of always needing to be the standard bearers. [Issues impacting space factory feasibility]

1989 01 02Grace is not one of my strong points. [back of Self-portrait]

1989 04 16As one of the fathers of modern quantum mechanics, Dirac should have known better than to believe something because it is obvious. [On the prejudice against complex observables]

1989 05 01[Looking at my H-Flick plots is] a little like exploring a new continent, or a new planet. [letter to Mom and Dad. H-Flick was the name of the computer program in my PhD research that generated movies showing the behavior of hydrogen atoms.]

1989 06 20Is going away and coming back really the same as doing nothing at all? [letter to David Hulme]

1989 10 11..12I feel privileged to have visited the ivory tower of intellectual discourse, but I don’t feel I belong there.

It has occurred to me that the most important skill I am developing at this stage in my work is perseverance. [letter to Mom]

1990 04 27A child molester is a doctor who feeds downers to a “hyperactive” child so the parents can sleep at night.

1990 04 27On the moon, anyone who is weak, stupid or unlucky will soon die. A team that includes someone who is weak, stupid or unlucky may perish along with him.

1990 07 15I’m a physicist, an entrepreneur, a philosopher and an explorer. [ISU Journal]

1990 10 02There isn’t anywhere that I’ve ever been able to work as an employee that has challenged me as much as I challenge myself in my own business. [Notes recorded while driving back from ISU, in Miscellaneous notes at ISU, page 22]

1990 10 02Agricultural fields are growing, self-replicating solar energy transducers. [Notes recorded while driving back from ISU, in Miscellaneous notes at ISU, page 23]

1991 05 03… when you reach a goal, it is so important to set a new one, or you get bored. The purpose of a goal is not in reaching the goal; the joy in a goal is in striving for it. America had a goal, called the American Dream, for which we strove all through the early part of this century, and which we had largely reached by the 1960’s. Now the Dream is slipping away because we didn’t understand that when we reached that level of prosperity we had to set new goals to strive for in order not to become lazy and depressed.

1991 05 04Look at how primitive we are. The most basic scientific fact about physical objects, the law of inertia, was first published only 300 years ago.

1991 05 04I’m still the vagrant and wanderer that I have always been. [The difference is] I now have some money [and] this enormous level of education … But I’m still just the bum I’ve always been.

1991 05 15A lot of the science fiction literature seems to associate an advanced state of civilization with the demise of emotion, contrasting emotion to logic and associating advancement of civilization with priority given to logical assessment of issues. It occurs to me that that is a Newtonian point of view, that logic itself is an artifact of the Newtonian frame of reference, and that there may be an advanced state of consciousness that is superior to one that is governed by logic.

1991 06 06Here’s an idea about the “problem” in America today: America is built. The fun, the excitement, the adventure of being an American in the early and middle part of this century was building this country. And that’s where the prosperity came from, from the industry of building. But now our problem, (and it goes back to the statement that our problem is rooted in our prosperity) is that our country is already built. … Building something is much more exciting than keeping it clean, and keeping it in shape.

1991 06 08I wish the President could say: “Homeless is not being without a roof over your head. Homeless is being without a family, … without hope. … Going without a meal from one day to the next, that you can survive. … The hopelessness of these people is not a problem that can be solved by the Government … [but only by] relationships with other human beings.”

1991 07 13… if you lose your job, and therefore you lose your apartment, so you move out of your apartment and move into an apartment where some friends of yours are living, this is called being homeless. That’s bullshit. That’s not homelessness, that’s having good friends!

1991 07 15Is it serendipitous that the internal combustion engine and massive oil reserves on the planet were discovered in the same general period of time, or did one discovery motivate the other?

1991 08 26..27Logic is a formalization of language, which is a patterned representation of consciousness … [and] may not be universally valid. [What do I believe, page 2]

1991 09 13, 22Mother Earth cannot shelter us forever if we do not cooperate with her by doing the global analog of helping with the dishes and taking out the trash. [My View of the Future: Theology]

1991 12 30New prayer ending: “I say these things with my utmost sincerity for whatever ‘ears’ may hear them with beneficent intent. — Amen”