She's a brainiac, brainiac on the floor . . . and she's thinking like she's never thought before.

I loved this cartoon, although I had to think about it for a couple of days to figure out what it was about it that made me stop and think (besides the fact that it's by L.K.Hanson, who is one of my favorites). Here's what I've come up with:

1) It's about the future, and for a worrier such as myself, the future is always there. We have quite a few members of the worrier club in my family -- we lovingly refer to our malady as the "what ifs" -- a disease we would gladly be rid of if we could just figure out how to do it. So to say "I never think of the future" is a revolutionary, mesmerizing and utterly foreign idea to me.

2) How did someone with Albert Einstein's vision never think of the future? Doesn't vision imply seeing ahead? This may occur to the rest of you immediately, but I had to mull it over a little before I came to this conclusion:

Albert Einstein never thought about the future because he was too busy trying to understand the things that were going on around him. Going on around all of us, for that matter.

His vision involved looking around and then understanding what he was seeing. He must have been so busy concentrating on "now" that he didn't have time to waste on "what ifs". Wow.

And of course then I remembered that Maira Kalman (one of my other favorite purveyors of ideas married to pictures) said something about Einstein, so I looked it up:

Maira Kalman

Click on it so you can read it -- you'll say, "Susan, that's not really about Einstein at all -- it's about Johannes Kepler." You're right, of course, but isn't it marvelous? And Johannes Kepler was so busy looking around the 1605-ish night sky (without a telescope) that he was able to figure out the elliptical orbit of Mars.

I guess I've never really looked closely at anything.

I know you've met her before but she felt she needed to stop by again and remind us to start using our imaginations in some useful ways and stop using them to imagine all the awful things that might, but almost certainly won't, happen.

(What if my imagination were 100% available for me because it wasn't busy doing useless things? Imagine. . .)

Just when I was certain daytime television had become an intellectual wasteland that was surely a precursor to the demise of western civilization, Jim Carrey said something on a talk show that made me actually get out a pencil and jot. The gist of what he said was this:

Always say yes to what's coming, because what's coming is going to be awesome.

That's how we keep going forward, isn't it? By saying "yes" to what's coming and then looking (and sometimes working) to understand the awesomeness of it?

Maira Kalman

But let's not walk too fast.

Hollywood is full of surprises because in the trailer for the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" there's a line about how you can only understand life backward but you have to live it forward. I thought that was rather brilliant, but now I've decided it is outshone by the brilliance of concentrating on here and on now. You'll be forced to move forward soon enough.

When you're busy living your life on the road to somewhere else, it gets pretty tiring. Perhaps it's better to unpack the suitcase and look around at the tourist attractions right in the room you're in.

Yes, you. Get off the bus at the next stop. That's probably the only way to avoid speeding right past things like the Theory of Relativity.


Jake and Chelsea said...

i think that you are the only person i know who can intelligently speak about the theory of relativity while displaying pictures like "who, me?" and end it all on an unbelievably positively enchantingly uplifting note.

your blog is too good for the rest of us.

susan m hinckley said...

Now that truly IS the nicest thing ever. I'm glad I turned on my computer this morning!

Amanda and Christopher said...

Wow. Thank you Susan. I think I will need to re-vist this post on a daily basis. And what a fabulous Einstein/Kepler piece of art, I love it! Thank you again, keep doing that thing you do.

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