Seeing To Infinity and Beyond…

The ultimate Red Queen Race as the faster Opaka painted the more numbers he had to paint...

One of the things which I was going to say in the opening of this post was “I look forward to the obituary section of the Economist“, however no matter the number of times in my fretting over the words was it possible to convey the intent without sounding morbid or Goth about it if you will.  As death is a hard sewn fact of life as at some point in time we all will have to look it straight in the face at least once in our life.  However it’s not the concepts of mortality which we will be waxing about here, yet it’s the results of such [mortality] which has brought us to this discussion.

As this was the goal of a Franco-Pol artist by the name of Roman Opalka, as when he set off on his journey back in 1965.  His goal, or so it seemed at the time wasn’t about mortality either as what he intended to do is paint “infinity“.  Lofty a goal yes requiring the iron will of a monk sworn to silence for a lifetime is how he approached the self imposed task.  As when he first touched his number zero brush, yes the tiniest of brush of all the artist tools to canvas, he had committed himself as well as the entire rest of his life to a task.  As every day without fail, he repeated his obsession of touching that same brush to his work surface adding by one and saying the number aloud as if in homage to it.

Yet this was an impossible task, as in doing so infinity goes on forever, as to undertake this Opalka had to admit to his own mortality, in fact on that day [in 1965] he actually surrendered to it. From everyday there after he painted his numbers, yes it was the number one he painted in 1965, then two and so on for the next 46 years of his life without fail.    That is until he took his turn as we all do to stare down death in the face, as ironically this turns out to be the same as his numbers.  You see in 1965 Opalka started a stare down that he couldn’t win just as his stare down in 2011 with his own mortality as the faster he ran, the slower he moved just as in the Red Queen Race he was destine to lose.

Of all of this struck me hardest in reading Opalka’s obituary is the finality of the world yet the reality it’s packed with infinite possibilities.  How such a thing can exist as one has to ask as how can a mere mortal man who is privileged to walk this earth for only a blink of an eye really in the greater scheme of things even think to take on the task of capturing the forever fleetingness of infinity…

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About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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