“I sure am glad I don’t have to live inside your head.”
Margaret says that she’s had the papers drawn up for my family to sign. She wants to leave my brain to Harvard to study after I’m gone. She’s convinced that they’re going to find that something in there is wired differently.
“Differently not wrong,” she says. She’s the one who says that I talk in 656 “nested ifs” . . . . if then, if then, if then into infinity, and always find my way back to the original premise. She also says I’m the most curious person she’s ever met.
I ask, “Am I strange or do I ask lots of questions?” Her answer always is, “See.” So I keep asking every chance I get—like this one. I’m curious about my curiosity. I’m curious how people interpret it.
Some people react very defensively. They think it holds some hidden agenda. I think their reaction says something about them. That response makes me curious. I wonder what they are worried I’ll find. Some people find my curiosity a joy and want to come exploring with me. They’re curious sorts too, I guess. I find that they often know many things about things I have never heard of.
I wonder about folks who live without curiosity. It seems like life would be so incredibly uninteresting. Just that second when I feel a boring moment approaching, I pull out a curious thought, a what would happen if . . . and I’m off again. Doesn’t happen much though, my problem is at the other extreme.
I have too many thoughts competing for my curious mind.
They say that some folks can’t connect the dots. They say we’re all connected by six degrees of separation. They say that the shortest distance between any two dots is a straight line. They say that you can bend the universe to move around. I find all of these very curious statements.
In my mind every dot is connected. There are zero degrees of separation. There is no distance between two dots. The leaps are mystifying, like flying without a net—even death defying, I suppose—to those who might be watching without a good net of curiosity to protect them. From the inside my mental leaps make total sense. I can take any minor act and show you how it might cause a major catastrophe. It will be absurd, totally goofy. But I can do it nonetheless, and the whole time I’m curious as to how I will get to my conclusion. Often I have to figure out the middle as I go, but not always
This conversation really happened once, while we were driving home from lunch.
My husband said “I want to watch the launch today.”
Distracted by the beautiful sky out the car window, I replied, “Peoria.”
“Oops. Do you really want to know?”
“Oh, sucked in again. Okay. What?”
“Well, Launch led to spacecraft. Spacecraft made me think of the Hubble telescope. Robert Redford’s character in “The Way We Were” was named Hubble Gardiner, I think. Which made me think of the movie, “Way We Were,” and a moment that Luke and I once had. It was short, but very dramatic. It would have fit the end in that movie. That moment happened in Peoria.”
“Thank you, dear. I needed that.”
Thing is that people often think I have control over this mental connecting. I don’t. I can’t turn it off. It happens. Someone says something and my brain goes curiously tracking connections. Sometimes I can “channel it” and then a story or a paper comes. Other times I’m just like a Schwinn bicycle rattling itself to death. It even drives me crazy, but what can I do about it? I go take a nap when I can.
I guess that’s why they’re all in agreement that they’re glad they don’t live inside my head.
Sometimes I remind them that they can walk away from me, but in the end, I’m stuck inside this head.
I’m curious about what it’s like to live inside their heads.
—me strauss Letting me be