Saturday, October 07, 2006

Crystallography and creation 

Behind lies a sheet of ice, interlocking crystals of frozen water having structure, shape, form.

Ahead, out in the open ocean, all is movement and change; waves swell and subside, never repeating the same pattern in complex, chaotic, multi-patterned flow.

And at the margin of the ice, a place that has no dimensions because it can only be described as the meeting of two other spaces, an act of creation is taking place. Fixed molecules of water bound in crystals of ice exert an attraction over their still free cousins; individual molecules of water leave the freedom of the ocean and connect with the frozen margin; and so the ice sheet grows.

The ice is our collective past; the ocean, our future. The edge is our present and those molecules of water as they leave the ocean and become fixed into the crystal lattice are our choices. Together, we build a growing structure out of the fluid possibilities of the future.

Close by the edge of the ice the number of water molecules is large, but finite. There’s a limit to the possible ways in which the edge grows. The ice crystals can’t stretch out to sea and pull a water molecule from far out in the ocean; only those at the very edge can cross the margin from fluid to solid; from future to past. The further out you go – the further into the future – the greater the possibilities as to where any particular molecule of that future will end up.

So it is with our choices. Only in the present do we have choice; only in that moment squeezed out of time – beyond past, but not yet future – have we any true freedom of choice.

There’s no way of telling for sure, in the present, how a choice today is going to affect tomorrow; how this or that molecule freezing out of the ocean into the crystal lattice is subtly altering the ocean’s fluid form and influencing shapes yet to come into being.

We can only make the best choices we can here and now.


Thanks to Christy – these thoughts inspired by her comment to my previous post.

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