We’ve made it to another Friday, which means the weekend is nearly here. Although all of my nights since the brutal sleepless night earlier this week have been better in terms of sleep, none have been up to my usual level, even though that’s still pitifully poor, so I’m really dragging today. I also feel clammy and vaguely ill, like I’m fighting off a virus. It’ll be good to have a low-key couple of days.
I’ve been weirdly obsessed with Ancient Egypt, specifically the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx, this week. I’ve never had an interest in this topic in the past, nor ancient civilizations in general. I especially loathed any school units about Ancient Greece, mythology, the Odyssey, the Iliad, and Trojan War were by far my least favorite topics ever addressed throughout my schooling. It seemed like these units dragged on for months and returned in several grades. Every time, it meant my mom had to sit with me on the couch and work through my readings and assignments with me as a translator and motivator. It never made any sense to me and was so boring it actually brought me to tears numerous times.
Ancient Egypt was only covered briefly in sixth grade, where I was only interested in hieroglyphics, though admittedly, I became quite obsessed at the time. I remember practicing writing them on pieces of computer paper that I’d stain with tea and singe the edges of to resemble old papyrus scrolls. This wasn’t a one-time craft; I did it over and over and over, long after our school Egyptian projects were over. Unfortunately, as with nearly all history lessons, as I mentioned last week, the teachings and knowledge have completely escaped my accessible memory at this point, and I’ve found myself over the nights this week wondering: Why were the pyramids and Sphinx built? How big are they? What are they made out of? What’s inside? Why were they designed that way?
One night, my desire to find out was so urgent that I started a quest to research as much I could the next morning. Throughout the past several days of reading different articles and sources and watching documentaries released by different organizations, I’ve found that some of my initial questions can be answered, but many remain unanswered, even to Egyptologists and dedicated historians. Each of my questions has also multiplied into a cascade of follow-up questions, birthed by the information I’ve ascertained.
The construction challenge posed by the massive structures is incredible, especially with the precision with which they are built. What’s also fascinating is how little is known (as fact, not speculation) about how and why they were built with the specific mathematical proportions and relationships that modern architects, mathematicians, and other scientists have identified. There are a lot of conspiracy theories, speculations, and assumptions made about the construction of the Great Pyramid, and it still remains unknown whether they were designed with this abundance of perfectly proportional patterns using “advanced” concepts like pi, the golden number, and even the meter, which were allegedly not “discovered” or deduced until long after the erection of the pyramids. Are these measurements and relationships so precisely incorporated with prominence in the design just total coincidence? In many ways, it seems likely that they are, given the supposed tools, technology, and knowledge of the world, astronomy, engineering, math, and building at the time, which is purported to be completely lacking in the awareness and ability to intentionally yield the perfect relationships they have. At the same time, if these mathematical proportions are entirely by chance or coincidence, that’s one unbelievable coincidence, given the number of perfect or near perfect measurements throughout the chambers, sides, and shapes of the entire massive structure.
I don’t have my own theory yet, nor do I fully understand the body of proven evidence versus assumptions and filled-in gaps at this point. I’m not even yet a novice on the subject, and I imagine I’ll lose interest and move on to satisfying my next burning void with an obsessive interest before I’ll get there. And honestly, that’s fine. As much as I want to satisfy my curiosity and “know” the answer for sure, I’m wise enough (jaded?) at this point to understand that that’s not always possible. I thank my fascination with nature and the sciences for that wisdom; there are still so many unanswered questions and things that remain mere hypotheses or early-stage theories. That said, it can be frustrating when questions hang there unanswered, like a thirst that can’t be sated.
That’s life though, isn’t it? As children, we often receive answers to our immediate questions, from parents, caretakers, teachers, etc. There often seems to be an answer provided. (Whether that answer is actually true or just stated as fact to silence further inquiry isn’t always as clear!) As we grow up and become students of the world, we find the percentage of questions that can be effectively answered with assurance is actually rather low. This is not usually due to a dearth of resources and information, but instead because so many things are unknown or impossible to know, particularly about ourselves.
In my opinion, we can never know everything about ourselves, how our minds work, what our future will be like, etc. Curious people realize that they can always wear a metaphorical lab coat and experiment, research, and study themselves, their minds, their emotions, and the world around them. Whether a brain works like mine and gets fixated on certain subjects (Ancient Egypt, whales, geothermal energy, etc.) until sufficient knowledge is achieved to satisfy the curiosity, or if it wonders about how to feel happier, be more productive, sleep better, reduce anxiety, beat an addiction, etc., humans can always be seeking to learn and learning that some things will remain unknown.
Although frustrating, this is also sort of a gift; if it was easy to understand everything, it would be less satisfying to obtain that knowledge and less motivating to remain on the quest to understand those bigger questions with elusive answers. I certainly love knowing the answer with confidence and “being right,” but I also see feel the exciting pull of learning and discovering by time, especially about myself. It unfolds layer by layer slowly, sometimes painfully slowly, but it’s like unearthing a unique, amazing fossil. Little edges of the cast get exposed by blowing some of the concealing sand away a few grains at a time. Then, attention can be directed to that area to dig and dig, learning more about yourself to remove more sand and expose more of the hidden fossil. It’s a constant archeological discovery throughout life, a long-term escalation to uncover clues and forms below, can eventually be assembled into a novel, unique creature. Each of us is individual. We have a generic human template, but from this we all scatter as beautiful unique beings. What’s equally special is that we each hold the magnifying glass, tool kit, and log book to investigate our own selves and remain inquisitive explorers throughout our lives.