This is an autobiographical post.
Details fascinate me. I enjoy the process of deliberately observing and absorbing a moment, place, person, or thing. I love looking for new ways to appreciate old and routine interests and activities, even people. When I was younger, much younger, the biggest word I learned by hearing it often used to describe me was the word ‘inquisitive’. I wanted to know everything, which is sometimes a family’s joy and other times downright annoying. I’d asked questions about everything to just about anything that moves, and sometimes to things that do not move too. I loved teachable moments. This is perhaps what cultivated my preference for friends that are much older than me through most of my life: they tend to have more answers and insight than my peers – even if all you had to do was hear their experiences and watch their interactions. I wanted to know everything precisely and completely.
With my fascination for details is also an unsearchable passion for art, creativity, and ambiguity. In the simplest of conversations, for example, I choose my words carefully, but scarcely hold much to it once uttered: did I say it right or wrong? Was it even said to the right person? I barely give it another thought – considering the attentiveness to the choice of words in the first place. It need not be impeccable. For another example, I love to cook, and I put a lot of thought into the activity. Still, every meal is a new experience. I do not memorize recipes or the ingredients used for a particularly good meal. I simply enjoy the meal, and hope lightning strikes twice at the same spot. It often doesn’t, but the end result is usually another good spot to hope for yet another lightning strike. Every experience will be new if I could help it, even routine ones. I don’t have the faintest idea of the names of most of my personal effects, even though I have lived for years on many of them. Somehow, though, I manage to know where to find them again during a re-purchase. When asked how old I am, I do a little math in my head to figure it out or, if feeling slow, I queerly blurt out a number that vaguely seems familiar; which I then forget at the end of the conversation in any case – as though whatever was figured got literally deleted from memory.
In truth, I like not knowing little things. I like forgetting minutiae that can easily be corrected or derived again. I abide unseriousness and irreverence. Perhaps only for the joy of rediscovering meaning and purpose; again and again. I am as indifferent and out of touch with my immediate surrounding just as much as I am mindful of its situation. I love to identify with experiences, more than events. I know enough after an unpleasant incident to apply prudence and avoid it from happening again, but hardly enough to remember why I made the decision in the first place. I get excited and trust like a child, but are equally tough and pragmatic in the face of a challenge. I seldom look back on good judgment, but forgiveness is easy. After all, who can hold a grudge he/she doesn’t even remember? People respond to these in a variety of ways: some find it amusing, others think it’s unreal, but my favorite description was from a sweetheart that dubbed me as having “selective amnesia”. I couldn’t express it better. Life for me is a huge collage of art and ingenuity. While meticulous to its details, the present moment is all there is to an occasion. Afterward, the meaning of the experience is all that remains. All else fades away, left for the future to reinterpret.
This is why I love Science and Art. Science at its best is an art, and art at its best can be studied as a science – albeit random. Science likes to categorize things and put a label on them. Art avoids naming things because it contends that there are multiple ways to appreciate the same experience. Science seeks definite answers, but Art poses questions with or without answering them, and sometimes, it even provides many answers – all of them equally as important. For Art, the question, not the answer, is the point of the endeavor. For science, the answer, and not the question, is the bottom line. A good artist aspires to leave you with more puzzle than clarity, and a good scientist strives to give you coherence. Both of them equally passionate and resolved in their pursuit. Who can blame either? Sometimes, all we want are cogent answers to our many nagging questions. Other times, we wallow in an abundance of obvious answers trying only to seek out what questions they actually answer. Science obsesses on destinations: the pursuit of the ideal/perfection, and Art on journeys: the ideal/perfection of the pursuit [itself]. Both significantly influencing how we appreciate and experience life.
I love both of these worlds – passionately. I engage in both. Sometimes, individual words, more than their meaning in combination, fascinate me. Other times, the meaning that emerges, rather than the words that make them, take precedence. I think both [the word that joins with others to make a meaning, and the meaning that is made by a sum of words] are a medium to appreciating a world that is a lot more important and deeper than their individual assertion and complexity. It’s a big picture, no, maybe more of an intricate one. Anyway, I enjoy both predictability and the variety that uncertainty brings to our experience of life. I like the charm of order as well as the free spirit of chaos. I cherish the intricacies of complexity and the elegance of simplicity… all in a way not outdone by the other.
Our world is beautiful. Our world is diverse and rich with life and meaning. I love it. I love the unique forms that emerge out of complexity, as well as the mundane existence of the simple things that all come together to create the world we both adore and cherish.
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