These short essays are sketches of thoughts. I call them “pencils” because like a pencil sketch, most of what they offer comes from the observer, or in this case, you, the reader.

            A skilled artist can draw an image with a dozen lines, maybe less, and we will see a person’s face: not just any person, a particular person. Where does this image exist? It isn’t on the paper. That’s just a few one-dimensional lines on two-dimensional paper. It’s in the minds of the artist and the observer. The drawing gives the minimal information necessary to invoke the image in our minds from our individual experiences. Amazingly, it is essentially the same image in multiple minds. Most people who see the original subject of the drawing will agree the image is of that person.

            These essays are not academically rigorous to say the least, but if they resonate with something in you, whatever truth they have will come out. The details will fill in from your knowledge and experience. I don’t close every loop of logic. I do my best to be consistent, but I can’t account for every branch of “Yes, but what about…” that will come up inevitably in a reader’s mind. One of my favorite comments on these writings started with “Yes, but…” then finished with “Thank you for starting me thinking about this.”

             That’s enough. We need more thinking from everyone. We sometimes feel that we can’t ever really know this stuff, so why bother. Maybe we can’t, but I believe that the more we think about the great questions of life and existence, the less we get riled up about the mundane disagreements and conflicts of daily life. Being calmer and more grounded in the context of the great mysteries must help us to keep “the small stuff” where it belongs. Let’s not kill each other over issues that aren’t really about life and death.

             And who knows, maybe we can know this stuff—at least enough to get by.


Hugh Moffatt
Waltham, Massachusetts
February 26, 2019