Monday, December 05, 2005

Curiosity Inside My Head

It’s been said several times by several people who all seemed to use exactly the same words. Oddly they spoke years apart.

“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


Anonymous said...

Liz, are you sure we aren't related :0)

my stepdad could never follow conversations between me and my mom, they pretty much all sound like the one you had with hubby in the car.(Way we Were, most romantic movie ever, even if I did hate the ending, but understood why it had to end that way)

there is so much to be learned, I can't imagine not havingthe curiosity that I do

I just love your writing my friend, I look forward to your posts (hugs)

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

You are the best. Maybe my mother knew your mother. What can I say? It's so nice that you like to read what I like to write.

Anonymous said...

I don't think my chaining of connections happens quite as fast as yours (not so bright) but it still happens.
Its very inconvenient in negotiations!

I had the excuse of the Aquarius 'type' - a book once said we like to ask everybody's opinion and then make up our own from the mass of alternate info. I thought 'that's me' and just got on with it.

You are gifted, but if the alternative is to get to a certain age and stop being curious, stop learning; that must be awful.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Yeah Cheryl,
Maybe that's why there are so many cranky old people in the world. They's lost their curiosity and they have nothing to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

I kinda find you familiar when I read posts like these. I have a friend like you. It's always interesting to talk to her or I would prefer, to listen.


Anonymous said...

When you get to a certain age don't you just forget where you started from and how you got to where you are? Or is that just me... Ball of wool anyone?

Wonderful blog, I have enjoyed my visit here. Thank you.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi, Liz,
You are a friend of mine,and you can listen any time.
I so enjoy having you around.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Welcome. I hope you'll come back to visit again.
No, I don't think you have to forget where you started from. Some people do forget what it's like to be a five-year-old, but I hold on to it as hard as I can. It's a part of me, as much as any other part and I don't want to lose it.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, truly, to see someone write this is wonderful.

'I have too many thoughts competing for my curious mind.'

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Jackal,
I'm so curious to know what they are. (Big grin)
I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this.


Anonymous said...

I had a friend in college with the same blessing. I remember playing pinball with him and he turned to me and said "You know she turned down a million dollars to pose for Playboy?" Neither of us having been speaking, I just turned to him with my jaw slack. "Do you know her?" he asked me. "Do I know whom?" I asked back. "Manon Rheume!" He answered impatiently.

She was the first female goalie for a professional hockey team. After I got done laughing, I was very curious about the part of the conversation I hadn't been privy to. Here, as best I can recall is the sequence:
1. A Boston Market advertisement had come on the radio, reminding him:
2. Of when he had attended Boston University prior to transferring to Emory.
3. While at BU, he had enjoyed walking to hockey games.
4. Speaking of hockey reminded him of having read the article about Mañon Rheume a few weeks back.
It was around this point that the dialogue had become audible.

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

I'm the Margaret in this piece and as much as you might think you relate to Liz - I'm sorry you don't.

I have spent many hours trying to follow the nero paths of this woman and they are are truly unique. (I'm older, so I'm wiser, so I know of what I speak!)

The one place I've seen the threads come together has been with this blog. She does write well - does she not? Liz has finally found a way to make her nurons look - well - almost normal.

I'm still sticking to the brain donation idea. It might lead to a scientific break through. But at the very least it will give some graduate student the problem of a life time.


Anonymous said...

Curiosoty has always been one of my favorite words.

My trouble is everyone tells me I'm curious about the wrong things. The things I want to know about won't ever be useful to me.

But how can information ever be 'not useful'?

I like your curiosity. It's a constant learning experience for me :) Not to mention it usually leads me off into day dreams :)

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Doug,
No wonder you like coming here,
I remind you of your friends,

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hello Margaret,
I'm glad they've had a chance to hear from you how it really is.
I think you've laid out the reality of the situation well and with finesse.

It's so fun to hear you voice her, Margaret.

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer,
That space juice has had a curious effect on you. :) How are you feeling?

Curiosity is how you learn about things. What's not worth learning about? I think you're with some people who are worried you might out think them. That's what I think.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes well
If in your enthusiasm you forget to verbalise the first half of the sentence, that does make a slight difference!
Then again I guess only a real friend would be one you would 'think out loud' to in the first place?

:-) Hehehe

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hey Cheryl,
I'll just make sure that you're in the wheelchair next to me. Hehe.