I try to take a couple of days a week to think about things that inspire me... to read things that might be interesting, to spend time reflecting on the things I see around me, and to watch videos of people sharing things about which they are passionate.
This leads me to spend a lot of time on the TED website. TED Stands for Technology, Education, and Design. It's an interesting site full of discussions from people sharing all sorts of ideas about, well, technology, education, and design. It's always full of heated discussion, people who disagree vehemently, and people defending as though their lives depended on it. There are some aspects about TED that I find a little elitist (like the fact that it costs thousands to attend the conferences, unless I misread something somewhere), but the fact that you can watch the videos for free is a fantastic thing.
So, last week, TED posted the following video on their Facebook page. It's a talk by artist Janet Echelman. What drew me to watch it was the title: Taking Imagination Seriously.
I know a lot of people will have watched the first few minutes of this video and thought, "Well, what's the point of having big nets in the air? Wouldn't it endanger a lot of birds for the sake of having something pretty in the sky?"
Firstly: There has not yet been a single bird caught in these things. The artist stated it perfectly: "There are plenty of big trees out there that birds manage to fly around." The nets are visible and flow just like tree branches do in the wind.
Secondly: Does there have to be a message? Maybe there is a message, but it is not a verbal one. It manifests itself as that feeling in your chest when you are deeply moved, or the way you wrinkle your forehead while you puzzle and make sense of what you are seeing, hearing, feeling. That's what happened to me as I watched this. You sometimes feel it when you hear a song that moves you, or see something that touches you, be it art, some technology, something scientific... something that shakes you and leaves you speechless. Maybe you are speechless because you're not supposed to say anything. You feel your eyes searching for something to focus on as you try to grasp something in your brain that is just out of reach... perhaps you are searching for that non-verbal message that this thing is sending you.
I used to be the sort of person who uttered the phrase, "What's the point of that," but the older I get, the more I find that there really isn't any answer to that sometimes. Not a verbal answer, anyway. I keep trying to explain this fascination of mine with yarn and pointy sticks or hooks, and you know what? Maybe there is no explanation. I like it. It moves me. It makes my mind exercise in ways it never used to before. And that's enough. It's wonderful.
And wonder is a great thing.