The world is a TARDIS: curiosity and creativity
The world is a TARDIS: the art of adventure
People are TARDISes: diverse (part I)
People are TARDISes: complex (Part I: open, part II: observations, part iii: implications)
Let’s love our TARDIS selves.
February, March 2017
Occasionally I feel like a little astronaut, discovering the universe of life bit by bit, and every time I come across a world and open it up, I discover another universe inside, with more worlds to open up and discover!
Over the past few years, the world’s bigness got even bigger to me.
Curiosity and creativity
Something I hadn’t expected the ship to do was to set my desire to learn more on fire. I had just finished four years immersed in Biomedical Science and its associated New Zealand middle-class culture, my brain was crammed with facts about the brain, and I remember wanting to explore what else was out there! Science is great … but so is so much else haha! I remember feeling like a young, innocent Disney protagonist who had just finished the first chapter of her life, ready to set off with a burning desire to learn, grow, understand, explore!
So I believe that it was a God-ordained thing that I met certain people on the ship who blew my mind open to other worlds. This is what I wrote about them back in 2014:
October 17-19, 2014. Three nights. Two voyages.
As our ship was a dark shape crawling across the Indian Ocean on our way to Madagascar, some people were simultaneously transporting me on another journey.
Our destination: another universe.
A Glorious Universe.
Abi, Kyle, Ben, other Ben, Joey, Mark, Laurin, Daniel and a few others … thank you. Those three nights are now something intangible, special, a blur of images and sounds characterized by bone-vibrating beats, piano sequences hailing from Arabia and the jazz era and all in between and not in between, water splashing against metal beast, rhythmically and constantly for 9 days straight, harmonica, hallelujah, hair the colour of gold sitting atop a piano, scarlet flash perched by a window, popped corn, dancing arms, playing a swaying piano in a swaying room. Words invented in seconds, released as poetry soaring over guitar strings, Richard Brautigen, conversations deep like the waters from our floor to the sand acres below; creatures-deep, words, more words, wordplays, swordplays, radioplays. Circles of getting to know each other, a room stuck in music. Big music box?
I felt like I’d stumbled across a Treasure of Creatives, the Beginnings of an Era. Was this what C. S. Lewis felt like when he discovered his Inklings, what Jack Kerouac experienced when he met his beat poets?
In all honesty, I didn’t contribute much to these moments. I wouldn’t be part of any Mercy Ships Inklings, any Mercy Ships beat poets. I more played the part of observer, the deeply appreciative witness wallowing in the pleasure of their raw, their real, their birth. Their minds are waterfalls of abstract, they refracted my thoughts around their rainbows, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you for letting me wallow.’
I found this in my goodbye letters to a few of them, ‘… I was MIND-BOGGLED. In this island of time, space and culture, you … were active players on the mainstage who affected me deeply – key actors I watched, singers I was enraptured listening to. In the act of coming to Mercy Ships, on an internal level it felt like God knocked down the walls in my house, flipped off the ceiling, and then constructed a different reality within to teach me things, painting my insides a different colour.’
They weren’t the only ones. Later, Kyle and Beth formed a Creative Club onboard, where we’d come each week with something we’d created and shared it (we attempted synchronised swimming once! (you can watch here starting from 3:33) LOL).
Music. Words. Creativity. Questions. Depth. (Not a representative example, but funny: ‘What’s the meaning of number two?!’ these young North American men exclaimed, mischievously wide grins and genuine (or was it?) curiosity burning alight in their eyes, like the candles on the table as the rain hammered on the world outside. #RedGolds) (‘Let’s be creative! Let’s write a story! Let’s draw some stuff!’ There are so many creative and interesting ways of using one’s time) Loves that, although I am but an ignorant, unskilled, wannabe foetus in, are resonant with mine own heart and background.
I remember this time when I was sad, Kyle (without even knowing I was sad) distracted me out of my sadness by captivating my mind! If I had been in an MRI machine, you’d have seen parts of it flare. People onboard who were curious, passionate, knew stuff about stuff, were fascinated by the human heart and what it means to be alive, expanded my horizons of the possibilities through which a person can interact with the world, and brought alive to me more of the depth and riches that lie in this world and humanity, both invisible and visible.
Of course, these wondrous riches exist here in Aotearoa New Zealand too. In these communities and cultures. In learning. In John Oliver :P.
I am keenly aware that nothing I have written is anything new (nothing in this blog is. ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’), that some of it is simply me being my normal overly enthusiastic self, and that to a third-party observer, one of the ways of summing up what I have said could be as the ubiquitous experience of,
‘The girl’s understanding of,
and ways of interacting with,
the world, others and herself,
A common part of the maturing process.
C. S. Lewis has a cool metaphor in his ‘Meditation in a Toolshed (I recommend reading; just over two pages; simple but awesome xD),
‘From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it. Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw … green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.’
The summary I just gave is, in C. S. Lewis’s metaphor, an example of looking ‘at the beam’ of my experience. For me, it’s important to keep that in perspective; to articulate/understand/critique it so I can understand my other and current experiences. However, it is also important for me to understand my experience by looking at it ‘along the beam;’ an equally valid and wonderful way of looking at it; in the experiencing it, I found much joy and fulfilment. Another way of ‘looking at’ it is as education – I am such a fan of education. We need to help more people have more education.
I was reading a book on curiosity by Ian Leslie: ‘Curious: the desire to know and why your future depends on it,’ and in it I read things that resonated with at least some of my own experience! I quote to you some lines,
‘Berlyne was interested in why people get interested in things (YUP!!!! XD)’ … ‘George Loewenstein built his ‘information gap’ theory out of Berlyne’s insight. Information, he proposed, fuels curiosity by creating awareness of ignorance (YUP!), which gives rise to a desire to know more (YUP!). As soon as we know something about a subject, we start to become uncomfortably aware of what we don’t know, and that makes us want to close the gap.’
For me, that is relevant when it’s about things that I think is meaningful/important.
(I’ll include a bit more because I find this relevant):
‘… The crucial point here is that it’s not simply the absence of information that creates curiosity, but a gap in our existing information … we often neglect the role that a little knowledge plays in stimulating it. People tend not to be curious about things of which they are completely ignorant … When we know nothing about a subject, we find it hard to engage our brains, either because we can’t imagine finding it interesting, or because we’re intimidated by the prospect of starting to learn about something that might, by its scale or complexity, defeat us.
Conversely, when we know lots about a subject and feel we have pretty much got it covered, we’re unlikely to be interested in more information about it. In between those two states is what experts on learning call the ‘zone of proximal learning.’ For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call it the curiosity zone … Thinking about curiosity like this helps us to distinguish between people who are truly incurious and people who only appear incurious because they don’t have basic knowledge about the topic … Children and adults who are dismissed as incurious may be suffering from a different problem – a lack of basic information about the subject at hand …’
‘… In order to feel curious – to feel the desire to close an information gap –
you have to be aware that there is a gap in your knowledge in the first place.
The trouble is, most of us, most of the time, go around thinking we know everything.
Psychologists have demonstrated ‘overconfidence effects’ in many areas of our lives … we’re not very good at spotting our own information gaps, and that inclines us to be less curious than we ought to be.’
There is a certain comfort in knowing that I hardly know anything, because it means that there is more out there to be enjoyed.
God gave us this playground called Earth, and wants us to develop its potential, including art and culture. I understand more of why now.
Let’s spread this learning thing.
‘Limbo’ acrylic on canvas 2016
This is one of Dorf’s artworks. Can you imagine what wonders goes on in his head? How he sees the world?
Facebook page: Artwork of Benjamin Retersdorf
‘Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.’
-Bryant H. McGill