Barry Smith: Irrelativity | AspenTimes.com

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Barry Smith
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

Jordan Curet The Aspen Times

Dear Bad Guru,

My parents taught me that if you really want something, you have to go out there and work for it, nobody’s going to hand you anything for free, anything worth doing is worth doing right and so on. Well, I tried smoking my first cigarette last week, and it was nasty. Seriously, how do people do it? I really want to start smoking on a regular basis, but I can’t even imagine lighting up that second cig. I feel like if I were to give up so easily, it would be disrespectful to the values my parents worked so hard to instill in me. Still – yuck.

I see lots of ads in magazines and on TV and online about how to stop smoking but not a single bit of advice anywhere about how to start smoking. Please help.

Signed,

Nick

Dear Nick,

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Ever notice how the people who tell you that smoking isn’t cool aren’t particularly cool themselves? We know from history that the Native Americans used tobacco ceremonially, but what history is afraid to mention is that their ceremonies were mostly about being cool.

Like any new habit, smoking will take some time and discipline to add to your daily – and, eventually, hourly – routine. Ever try to start a new exercise program? It’s difficult to stick with it at first, right? You keep wanting to fall back on your old ways. But once you get over the hump and it becomes second nature, well, it’s totally worth it. You need to approach smoking in the same manner. Stick with it. Think of it as an exercise program for looking cool. You can do it! Don’t give up, Champ!

• • • •

Dear Bad Guru,

OK, I’m standing in front of the self-help section at the bookstore and see a book called “How to be Present, Always and Forever.” Right next to it there’s one called “How Your Past Lives Can Teach You Stuff.” I can’t imagine two more contradictory concepts. So which is it? Do I work to stay completely in the present, or do I look to my past – my really distant past – for answers, guidance and insight? I expressed my confusion and frustration to the store clerk, and all he did was apologize that the books aren’t alphabetized by author.

So? Well? What? Which?

Signed,

Presently Passed

Dear Pres,

The age-old conundrum: Be here now, or be there then? There are clear advantages to both, but still … which to choose? Your inner “voice” will need to be listened to more closely than ever for this decision, as it’s ultimately one that you and you alone can answer.

Unless one of those books is recommended by Oprah. In which case – duh.

• • • •

Dear Bad Guru,

I’ve been reading about the discovery of the Higgs boson, the thing they’re calling the “God particle,” and I can’t make heads or tails of it. It’s some thing that makes other things have stuff or something? Huh? I’ve been reading your column for years, and you’re always so wise and have such a way with words – could you please explain the Higgs boson to me in terms that I can understand?

Signed,

Lay Man

Dear Lay,

Of course. It’s pretty simple, really. The Higgs boson is a proposed elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics. The Higgs boson’s existence would have profound importance in particle physics because it would prove the existence of the hypothetical Higgs field – the simplest[1] of several proposed explanations for the origin of the symmetry-breaking mechanism by which elementary particles acquire mass.[2]

Hope that clears things up for you.

• • • •

Dear Bad Guru,

Hey, wait a minute. You just did a copy/paste from Wikipedia, didn’t you? I thought you had some vast spiritual knowledge that spilled over into other disciplines, but you’re nothing more than a plagiarist. And not a very good one. You didn’t even bother to take out the footnote numbers! Lame.

Signed,

Lay Man

Dear Lay,

OK, OK – here’s the best analogy on how to understand the Higgs boson. Imagine a tray of pingpong balls, each bouncing off each other slightly. Into this tray you quickly pour millions of dollars – in quarters and nickels – in research grant money. Voila. The “God particle.” Amen.