Thinking is like orbital re-entry.
Just hang with me on this one…When a spacecraft re-enters the atmosphere, it has to dissipate a great amount of inertial energy so that it doesn’t hit the ground like a meteor. Using air resistance, a spacecraft can slow itself enough for conventional parachutes to be of use, but the atmosphere comes with its own challenges.

Since most of a spacecraft’s velocity is tangential to the surface of the earth, the atmosphere has a tendency to deflect it like a rock skipping off of a pond. To counter this, the vehicle has to dive into the atmosphere at an angle…but too much angle and the air friction will incinerate the ship like a marshmallow in a blast furnace. However, with the correct reentry angle, the crew will arrive safely on earth.

Now for the analogy. I have noticed that intellectual problems often have two mutually exclusive effects on people. Some people tend to dive into a problem, becoming so hopelessly engaged with it that the rest of the world is lost from consideration. Others tend to be deflected by the difficulty or effort of engaging an issue, neglecting to confront it. One will burn you up, the other will leave you stranded in outer space. If one wishes to get “down to earth” from intellectual speculation, the balance between boldness and buoyancy begs brooding. Too timid and the challenge will turn you away. Too bold and the answer won’t jive with reality.

Personally, I find myself on the shallow approach to issues, but I prefer it that way. You can always try re-entry again, and burning up is no fun at all.

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One Response to Reentry

  1. Leah and Charlette says:

    Leah decided the article was about space, and Charlette didn’t want to think about it, neatly illustrating the two mindsets warned against.

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