Ad Infinitum

When Len and I attended the Da Vinci exhibit at the Discovery Center in Boise, one of the displays they offered was a view of infinitythe state of endlessness or having no limits in terms of time, space, or other quantity. Accomplished with lights and mirrors, it gave the visual impression of forever.

Infinity Exhibit

Trying to wrap my head around the idea of timelessness in a way that I could personally relate, I reviewed my life experiences. The one that comes closest to limitlessness is the view we savored from the summit of Ben Nevis. Located in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, it’s the highest point in the British Isles.

In your life, what personal experience best represents infinity?

© Laurie Buchanan

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71 thoughts on “Ad Infinitum

  1. Some moments of awareness seem to represent infinity. I think all moments actually do–but it feels like we can’t always tune in to it. Or maybe we can, but we’re too distracted with our separate identities. Neat photo!

    • Kathy – I wish it were easier to slip off our present-moment lenses and slip on our forever-eyes lenses. As you said, they’re the same thing, but it takes a mental gear shift and most times I end up popping the clutch 🙂

  2. Well, two things pop into my mind when you pose the idea of infinity – one transient, the other eternal.

    On Sunday I explained to grandson Curtis the meaning of the oblong symbol on the trunk of my Infiniti. We both know “forever” isn’t really true in the case of a car with a limited life span.

    The other is a quote from Emily Dickinson: This world is not conclusion / A sequel stands beyond. That for me is the true meaning of infinity.

    Sharp photo, brilliant question, Laurie.

  3. When I lived in Colorado Springs we would hike up Pikes Peak, like a walk in the park. At the tree line we would finally stop to truly rest, there looking down across the land… on and on it seem to go…

  4. Laurie, Infiniti is a concept I have never complete grasped. I wish I could. Yet, I am deeply aware of endings. The seasons. Life and death. Even our sun will eventually burn out and life on our planet will die. I suppose children and grandchildren come the closet along with the babies of other living things including the seeds of plants to giving me a sense of a possible Infiniti. These, however are dependent for survival on a hospitable environment which we are modifying away by the second. Maybe that little bit of weight that is missing when we die is infinite? But it will have no thoughts, no feelings as these are the function of the living brain. As you can see, Infiniti is a construct that alludes me. But I keep working on it 🙂

    • YesRising — I’m so glad you said that about breathing. I quickly dug into my manuscript pages and pulled this food for thought:

      “In Latin, the word for breath and spirit is the same, “spirare.” The word “spirit” or “life-force” in the Hebrew language can be translated into the word “breath.” About 16 to 17 times per minute we say “yes” to continuing our life here on earth and take another breath. Our breath is quite literally our life force. We breathe about 10,000 quarts of air per day, oxygenating some 27 trillion cells.”

      So if breath is indeed Spirit, then it is, indeed infinite 🙂

  5. The realm of infinity revealed itself to me one day, as I was driving up I95 to Philadelphia. In a moment of shear boredom I looked out at the road all around me. All of the cars and trucks had all been transformed into a river of cutter ants, each carrying a small piece of leaf and all going in the same direction. It dissapeared as quickly as it had made its presence known. Twas amazing.

  6. Hi Laurie it has to be the ocean and it’s never ending waves . I could just sit all day (if I had nothing to do ) just watching the never ending roll of those white waves. Now I live in my half house I can go every day … it like a dream come true… I am so happy.
    Cherryx

  7. When I do my gentle yoga practice two mornings a week, I’m invited to find the “quiet center” when my eyes are closed and to focus on a vanishing point ahead when my eyes are open. Because of your question today, I see both as forms of infinity.

  8. I’m a person that has always enjoyed a good road trip. One time in particular, I was on a stretch of highway somewhere in northern New Mexico, and the highway ahead of me and behind me was straight as an arrow, stretching all the way to the horizon, as far as my eyes could see, and beyond. It felt like I could stay on that road forever, and never reach the end of the highway. To my left and right, there were crags and gullies that stretched out seemingly forever in both directions. It was one of the most content and serene moments of my life. Nothing but empty wide expanse, in every direction, with me being the only visible thing interrupting the space. I actually stopped in the middle of the road, got out, and took a photo. Absorbed the perfection for a while, before getting back in my vehicle, and continuing the journey (never seeing another soul on that road the whole time). Bliss.

  9. We have bathroom mirrors which produce this same effect of infinity every time we stand before them – even when brushing our teeth. When I challenge my beliefs and work on change – I get a sensation of the infinite – I often call this radiant love as it moves through and out of me.
    Very interesting question Laurie, very interesting indeed

  10. Laurie, timelessness and infinity are concepts I have trouble grasping myself. I know that time as we know it on Earth in a man-made construct, one that would be meaningless beyond the reaches of our Solar System. Infinity….wow! Looking upwards into the night sky, searching for the Wall or stopping point and realizing there is none. The complexity of multiverses and dimensions is far and away too much for my Human Brain, I cannot conceive of it. How much is Forever? I don’t know.

    • Sandi – The night sky is a great example. And to think that our little planet is but a sneeze in our solar system, which is but a hiccup in this galaxy. And to know that there are gazillions of others out there simply bends my mind!

  11. For me it would be looking into the space through a powerful telescope…seeing all the stars and knowing I’ve only seen a small sample…not an easy concept for our conditioned brains 🙂

    • Tiny — Yes, indeed! We used to live close to Palomar Mountain in southern California where the Palomar Observatory is. I’ve had the opportunity to observe the night sky through it’s tremendously powerful lens on a few different occasions. The words Unfathomable Wonders comes to mind! 🙂

  12. What a great exhibit that must have been…and brilliant shot/thoughts. Infinity is what we have ahead of us…and knowing that actually makes me enjoy the day more fully. Cheers!

  13. Infinity is a frightening concept. While we all dread our inevitable end, it is just as scary to contemplate eternity without an end. Hence if we are to fully grasp infinity we must think of the tangibles, in which case the birth of our children is the ultimate and glorious examples of what we have left behind to the world. The cycle of course will continue, re-newing itself with every new generation. Very challenging post here Laurie. 🙂

  14. I love your photo and I love this question! I have to be honest…nothing comes to mind! There are times I do think about my family and all the generations that precede me and all the ones that will come after. I like to think about that…and in a way, that’s as close to infinity as I can think about with any meaning at all. What a great question!

  15. Infinity? It’s all been said above, I think – gazing into the sky, especially at night with an infinite number of stars/planets/Suns overhead. Sitting on the beach, watching an infinite number of waves lap upon the shoreline. Watching my waistline in recent months – obviously an infinite amount of exercise needs to be put in my schedule.

  16. I love snorkeling and swimming with the fish. It totally lose track of time following these wonderful creatures and the silence of the water. I expect it must be a similar feeling to being in outer space, where there is no end in sight.

  17. Hi Laurie,

    I don’t have one single personal experience, and I have a few that give different flavours of what infinity might be like.

    One day I was SCUBA diving offshore, and about 150ft below the surface, in fairly murky conditions, in total darkness, just aware of thousands of feet of water below me and many miles to land on the surface, I felt extremely small in a very large world.

    Another time I was lying on a hillside at night, far from the nearest town, looking up at the cloud free sky just full of stars, and thinking about how far away they are. Thinking that it takes light 100,000 years just to get from one side of our galaxy of stars to the other, and there are billions of other galaxies, each with billions of stars out there. I had just finished reading Einstein’s works at the time, so I was aware that our universe is wider than light has yet traversed, so even if it is finite, there is no way to ever physically visit it all – should we live the rest of eternity.

    Another thing that gives me a small feel for infinity is numbers. I can write a number in 6 characters that approximates all the Planck units of space and time that have existed since the universe began – 10^220 – a one with two hundred and twenty zeros after it. It is an almost unimaginably huge number, yet compared to infinity it is smaller than the tiniest mote of dust compared to our universe. Infinity is just so unimaginably huge and loaded with possibility.

    And I love to think about how complex we each are, how our bodies contain 10,000 times as many cells as there are people alive, and each cell has as many molecules as we have cells, and the infinite arrangements of pattern that such complexity makes possible. We are each vastly more creative and flexible than we give ourselves credit for. For most of us, the single greatest limiting factor is our beliefs about our own limits.

    Infinity is an amazing concept – worthy of quite a bit of contemplation.

    • Ted — You’ve pointed out some really COOL aspects that drive home how difficult it is to wrap one’s mind around the concept of infinity. Serious contemplation of it makes for a terrific mind workout!

  18. I love images, thus when I look into the night show, I imagine the images that I can see … thus the universe seems to go on and on … endless … timeless … and I stand in awe of this creation.

    A personal invitation to you and your readers to attend my blog party this weekend … it’s a special occasion. Hope to see you, Laurie.

  19. Strangely, I can think of many ‘infinity’ moments in my life. When I am close to sleep, and just about near the next step of mindlessness, I can feel infinity in around and outside – everywhere. The same thing occurs when I’m doing ‘restorative yoga,’ as you mention in a previous blog post. Holding a restoring pose, letting the mind and body relax, can lead to infinity, in a way. And conversely, when I’m playing with my young grandchildren, I feel that the world has stopped, or has gone on forever, and there is no past present or future. Just the infinite NOW.

  20. Seems like an infinity since I’ve written a word! LOL SO—-yeah, I’ve been gone a long time. I know! But we moved. It’s Ecuador. And we just got our internet TWO days ago! LONGGGGGGGG story!

    I’ve missed you, Laurie! Thanks for your patience!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  21. Just the week before last, we were camping up in the Sequoia National Forest…the only ones in our campground. Without any lights from any human anywhere around, and being many thousands of feet above sea level, looking up into the night sky was a moment of Ad Infinitum for me. It is breathtaking. The sheer magnitude of the numbers of stars and galaxies that can be seen from places like that, that can’t be seen from the city or suburbs, invoked awe.

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