What Is Energy, Anyway?

One could say that energy is electromagnetism, or mass times the speed of light squared, but what about electricity, fire, or even the energy that I don’t feel? Is it really as ambiguous as it seems? Is it so tiny that I’ll never truly understand, nor fully comprehend it?

 Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth

In spite of my lack of comprehension, I can make one simple observation. Energy can do something other than burn, and that is evident by the tangibility of this reading material.  Matter: somehow energy can build upon itself, or be built upon, until it becomes the building blocks of atoms. Atoms—something other than energy! How can this be? How can some intangible vibrating vapor become tangible? Maybe there is something else—something before it – something wrapped up and built upon until it became energy.

Do I have the freedom to build upon my awareness until it becomes something else as well? Perhaps I can achieve enlightenment. But what am I supposed to do with this awareness if I can build upon it, or do I really have an option? Maybe the mark of true enlightenment is whether it is shared. Not that I’m enlightened, but will I ever be satisfied until what needs to be shared is understood? I’ll never know for certain. The only thing I can do is put my energy into the effort of being aware of the costs of technology and then share that awareness with the generations to come.

The oceans, the sun, the earth—all of these terms seem so inadequate in describing energy, because of the way it permeates everything in the universe. People can be said to emit an energy in the way we affect others, and the way we leave an impression. Our influence is an energy of our own making. And this influence can be built upon until it becomes something else as well.

Our words are like energy forming into atoms. (I digress for a moment.) Thoughts take shape and grow and build upon themselves until words stream forth like atoms billowing from a bubble machine. Soon others begin to react with more words—perhaps beginning to act. New flavors create new reactions. Then conversations catch on and take a life of their own in a moment of self-replication, beyond the little atoms that began the process; like protein molecules beginning to replicate, plans are made through thoughts that feed off each other. Self-replicating molecules twist around each other, forming the fibers that solidify and capture the resolve of inspiration. The results of initiative move the material needed as tangible results appear, and after considerable metamorphosis, a car is invented. Like a single-celled organism, a tangible, corporeal thing has occurred. Now we are way beyond the atoms of the words that we started with. We now have a unique phenomenon independent of anything before it.

Some time later, manufacturing reaches a point where roads are built through the compulsion of mass production. Highways are the blood vessels that are drawn upon earthy flesh until a global animal begins to form. Through its wealth, a nervous system begins to spread and then permeate every provincial road before it. Slowly this system grows and grows until it becomes an entity of its own, a global multi-cellular organism that is more than the individual cars and the people who drive them. Now we have a massive, breathing, pulsing organism on the verge of a complexity that will take it to a whole other level.

Serpent Biting Its Tail
Serpent Biting Its Tail

Soon it will become aware of itself, and we will have come full circle and returned to looking at something intangible, something ethereal: awareness. Like an ouroboros feeding on its own tail, like all things finite, we are back where we began. And now the question reappears. What is awareness? But now the question has a tail with a query of its own: “is it related to energy?”

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