Friday, December 12, 2014

A Recycled Blog Post On Rambling

"I have no special gift. I am only passionately curious." ~ Albert Einstein

What was it that made men like Einstein and Newton and Copernicus and Aristotle stand out from the herd? Einstein puts his finger on the nub of it right there. They were inordinately curious. They asked questions. They wanted to understand how the world worked. They didn't just accept things as they were.

For some reason, when we're kids we're taught that "curiosity killed the cat." This is repeated ad nauseaum in our childhood so as to make curiosity something bad, like lying. In reality, curiosity is part of the fabric of who we are. And it is essential to learning.

Making art is a thrill for creative personalities because it employs curiosity in the process of creation. What will happen if I do this? What happens if I do that? There is a sense of being an audience to one's own creations.

By way of contrast, many artists I know hate the way our culture wants "products" which can be reproduced. There's nothing more boring for an artist than mass production. It stunts this natural desire to see what will happen if I color it this way or that. Business people may like mass production for its efficiencies and the revenues generated. But I don't know many artists who want to make 1,000 identical baskets of flowers, teddy bears and ribbons.

According to our friend Merriam-Webster, the word ramble is an intransitive verb of 15th century Middle English origin which means to move aimlessly from place to place or to explore idly. I like the second part of that first definition: "To explore idly."

When we allow our minds to ramble and roam, amazing things happen. We discover gems. We find connections between new ideas and past experiences. There's a therapeutic aspect to it as well.

Every once in a while it's OK for our minds to drift, our thoughts to ramble. I don't know if it's healthy to keep our thoughts tightly coiled all the time. This might be a facet of music's wonder in that as we lose ourselves in the rhythms and harmonies and contours of sounds, whether sweet or discordant, we find a measure of freedom from our inward tyrannies.

Rambling as a lifestyle is also energizing for some. I know a few writers who travel the world, writing articles about what they see here, there and everywhere. I'm sure it's fascinating to meet so many interesting people, become engaged in so many cultures, to see so many scenic wonders.

But books can do a lot for us, too. And you can add surfing the net, idly rambling across an uncharted sea of URLs... There really are marvels out there.

Relax. Enjoy the view. Ramble on.

NOTE: THIS IS A RECYCLED BLOG POST FROM JANUARY 7, 2009


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