A curious human mind may be at its best when it finds that perfect balance point between wonder and truth. Scientists and artists know this precious mindset, but what if we all could just sit comfortably with uncertainty?
Could we listen and laugh more, and perhaps even take joy in things that completely baffle us?
Today we share a breathtaking 5 minute video that allows the beauty of nature to be the backdrop for those questions.
This video came our way via a subscriber who said simply, “you just have to share this on EWC!” (You too can send us extraordinary links!) He was right of course, but first a little background to tell you about the narrator… which makes the video even more brilliant.
Richard P. Feynman (1918 – 1988) was one of the greatest scientists, philosophers and teachers of the modern era. A Nobel Prize winner, Feynman was a genius in many places: his work was an integral part of the development of quantum mechanics; he translated Mayan hieroglyphics, he pioneered the concept of nano particles, and at only 24 years old, he had proven so brilliant on The Manhattan Project, that he had authority over many other older scientists there.
One of his most well known discoveries was the work he did on the space shuttle Challenger disaster commission. Sadly, as many Americans know that spaceship exploded shortly after takeoff, but you might not know that it was Richard Feynman who discovered and eventually blew wide open the cover-up of the faulty o-rings that caused that catastrophe. Importantly, he was very comfortable with uncertainty and this drove his curiosity in all directions. He was also a great humanitarian and admirer of the natural world.
Here’s one of my favorite Feynman quotes:
“Anyone who has been in a thunderstorm has enjoyed it, or has been frightened by it, or at least has had some emotion. And in those places in nature where we get an emotion, we find there is generally a corresponding complexity and mystery.”
– Richard Feynman
Well said! We at EWC are all about being comfortable with a little complexity and mystery. As you may know, every day we feature one article – on any subject under the sun – to prove this is still an amazing world (our motto).
As noted above, beyond all his scientific accomplishments Richard Feynman was a humanitarian with a beautiful outlook on the role of nature, science and philosophy. Here is a video we came across where he connects his comfort with uncertainty and his sense of wonder, for us all to ponder.
Can we all be “explorers”? Can we find wonder were we were once shaken by uncertainty? Perhaps, we can even get cozy with new questions that arise from a window of doubt we’ve left open.
I think we can.
I’ve never understood the friction some people create between science and philosophy. They are just two ways among many that point back to the wonder of our world. Most of us can share the same space with complete comfort when we are in awe of a starry sky, the beauty of a baby’s smile, or the smell of a pungent flower.
Here’s a small life-hack…
I’ve thought of this video hundreds of times since first seeing it, because I’ve used the insights to avoid negative emotions with others. If I’m aggravated with a friend, family member or stranger, who holds some ridged view that I don’t share, I pause to think of the wonders we could agree on, and I start interacting with them from there.
It takes a bit of mental gymnastics at first, but eventually, this becomes a habit.
In fact, the following photo is the mental image I hold in my mind. My daughter caught these two wonders of nature sizing each other up on a flower in North Carolina years ago. I’ve always loved considering the infinite stories and questions this photo raises. And the expression on that lizard’s face helps me avoid the same! 🙂
Try it some time! If you can catch yourself following a confrontational or negative impulse, just stop and quietly hold some beautiful image from the natural world in your mind for about 5 seconds. (Pick an image you know both of you could agree is a wonder.) They will think you are contemplating some great point they just made.
Okay… let them have that victory, and then see where the conversation goes from there. Because you are actually starting someplace completely different, you’ll be able to end somewhere much better, and be more comfortable with not “winning”.
Keep in mind, there is some chance they may be right on some level. I’ve learned to get comfortable with the uncertainty of that notion too. In the end, you’ll both be happier.
Give it a try. It’s a nice little life-hack and a bit of a game-changer most of the time.
Meanwhile, stay open, curious and hopeful.
~ Dr. Lynda
Bonus (for Physics Geeks)!:
Feynman is famous for a series of six lectures on physics that has formed the basis of most undergraduate education in the subject for decades. If you are a science geek (like me) you can still get those lectures in a great book written for non-physics students called Six Easy Pieces.
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