I don’t understand what Holger Bech Nielsen, the theoretical physicist, talks about. However, I gladly listened to him talk many years ago. Twice.
Why? I am not a physicist. I have not attended any physics classes at school. That doesn’t matter. You don’t need schooling to recognize the barely contained excitement in someone who wants to share ideas. I remember how he could hardly stand still because he was bursting with all that he wanted to tell us.
The audience was a group of Mensans at their annual gathering. The location was a campground with barracks owned by some church for their own get-togethers. Holger spoke in the only place available – a whitewashed, wooden church building. He became desperate to draw illustrations of what he was telling us. We could only find some white A4 paper and a purple marker. Volunteers taped the paper to the wall and Holger began to draw. He didn’t stop.
The paper hanging became a bit panicky as Holger drew larger figures and almost too quickly for the paper hangers to keep up with him. It was like one of the old cartoons where they lay down the tracks moments before the train came whizzing through. People mused about the possible reactions if purple marks were found later on the clean white walls – and if it was revealed what possibly heretical subjects were discussed under that roof!
In my mind’s eye, so many years later, I see joy in this episode. As I said, I was clueless about the physics. (Biology is more my thing.) It is just the vision of someone eager to explain and share and discuss (he was very eager to find those people who did understand him), and an audience providing a home for all that energy.
Maybe we won’t understand everything that crosses our path in life. That is OK. That should never stop us from encouraging others to learn and exchange ideas. Just watching others toss ideas about and create new ones is beautiful.
This is an utterly unmotivated post. Or perhaps it was motivated by the strong influence of my immersion in the world of reboot11 last week. I am still exhausted from all that (because I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since then), and many thoughts are churning about in my mind. I, too, am eager to share my impressions and ideas. I want to trigger even more conversations so that you can go off and trigger other discussions and so on and so on. In the midst of all that, this memory surfaced and merged with some of those reboot thoughts.
To be continued, as all conversation is in some form or another….