Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chemistry, Signs and Serendipity

So a couple of years ago, my first year at BYU, I was having a particular chemistry class on electron orbitals. This class happened right after my Book of Mormon class where my teacher had just urged us to liken, not only the scriptures, but all things, even our classes at BYU, into our lives. I thought that this idea had merit and so while sitting in my Chemistry class discussing these electron orbitals I had a revelation on life, or so I thought.

You see, when looking at electrons inside the electron cloud they all appear to be interconnected, a beautiful dance where each electron hits a thousand points in its path every second and hits every point in the cloud every few seconds. Upon closer inspection you discover that their are tracks for each set or level of electrons. Each set has their own orbit that they follow explicitly and don't journey out of. After furiously taking down the notes and drawing these crazy diagrams in class I got up put my headphones in and headed out to my next class. But the words of my Religion teacher were in my ears and so I tried to apply the chemistry lesson on a macro scale. (Lush, correct my chemistry if it is wrong)
So I look up and see the quad between the library and the MARB filled with students as classes across campus had just gotten out. As I saw this mass and realized that we are all electrons. We look like a beautiful crowd from afar off, but upon closer inspection it is clear that there is a pattern, an orbit that we each follow. Outside of these orbits we don't really interact with anyone else. This inspiration chilled me to the bone because I realized that surrounded by a thousand people, I felt utterly alone and isolated in my orbit that I felt no one else traveled. I remember thinking to myself that "even though we both go here at BYU, me and that guy (pointing at a random figure in the crowd) have nothing in common and will never intersect. I am here in utter isolation."

Right as I said that, we both made eye contact. I pulled out my iPod headphones and realized that my inspiration on life was wrong. That one random person that I picked out from across the quad happened to be a missionary that served in the Amarillo Texas area twice. An elder that we had shared meals with, that I had gone on splits with (I think). We talked and reconnected and stayed in loose contact for the next few months before I left BYU. Since then I have not thought about that elder much, but I have thought about this experience often.

I have taken it as a sign that just as I was feeling that i was utterly alone in my little orbital, that the one person I picked out to cement the proof of such a line of thought turned out to be someone I knew. It was from this experience that I so easily accepted the term of Ubuntu - only as humanity are we human. From this experience I have grown and have felt it as a tender mercy of the Lord.

Since I left BYU I have fallen into a couple of different patterns and orbitals. I had my Church orbit, my School orbit, and my Moho Orbit. At commencement, noticing the different people from varying orbits, of which I am a node, all around me made me recall this memory to mind. I was ruminating on it all throughout the day and wondering if I could keep straddling multiple orbits, going in and out of each one like a figure 8 where only a few points intersect. When I watched Star Trek I couldn't help but relate and be moved by young Spock's (who is Gabriel Gray BTW) plight in choosing between following his human or vulcan side. This is one of the places my mind was at when my friend and his friend tried to convince me to go to the club with them.

I remember thinking well "Why can't I follow this figure 8 pattern for ∞?" Why can't I continue to live with connections in both worlds? Am I doomed to fit into one orbital and be there in isolation from those I have met outside that one orbit? I decided that 1. clubbing would be good to get me out of my head, and 2. that rather than stagnate, I should grow each orbital because if I didn't I was going to continue in isolation eventually. So with that thinking I headed of to the club with Steve and George. At the club I started to feel alone in a crowd of people again. Just then, George mentioned that right behind me there was a cute guy that they had seen a couple of times before who could really dance.

So I turn around and it just happens to be the same elder from that day at the quad. So eventually we reconnected and started talking and this experience kept hitting me with the thought that I am never alone, it really hit me more than just intellectually this time. He and I talked and are going to meet later this or next week and talk over our experiences coming out and such. A part of me wants to just turn this off as happenstance but I don't believe in coincidence. I can't help but think that just as I was starting to get down over isolation i was thrown the same cure as last time in the same form as this RM. I think that this was a sign and that this serendipitous meeting was meant. Why I don't know, but it was meant to happen. I wish I could figure out why but we will have to wait and see for that one. But if I accept that our meeting was meant to be then doesn't my car being nearly jacked a sign as well? And if so then is the sign that it was hit or that it was still there when I got out? and again Why?

I think my trouble in life will be earning to ride the waves of why that come and simply accept life as it comes. Even with this knowledge I can't help but try to maneuver things, and I cant stop wondering why, but I guess I will need to learn how to and to have faith that in the end everything will work out just as it should and that I will be ok and even blessed for following the guiding hand of the Lion.


  1. "Each set has their own orbit that they follow explicitly and don't journey out of."

    Actually, electrons dont have patterns, according to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Theroy. They just seem to have places where they congregate most,but are able to find pathways outside that area.

    This can also be seen on a macro scale, in the phenomenon of Comfort Zones, and while u may think u are stuck in your own orbital, just realize the electrons can move to other orbitals with a little energy. ;)

    P.S. Thanks for the Shout Out

  2. To build on Lush's comment, yeah. Physical chemistry 1 explains it more... you learn all about quantum mechanics and the particle/wave duality of electrons, that basically when you have more than one electron, it doesn't act like a particle any more but more like a wave. Anyway, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle also ties in to the idea of probabilities of electrons being at a certain place. Think about a particle in a box. You are likely to find that particle in that box, but it is also a possibility that it could 'jump' out of the box, and though the probability is low, it is still there. But David? You're a lot more than an electron. These things can be great for gaining insight and learning (which you've done), but there is danger in reducing human beings to something as simple as electrons that always behave a certain way. I personally don't think that everything happens for a reason because I don't like the idea that I'm a puppet, but in the end it works out so I guess it doesn't really matter.