Our family is a unique combination of scientific and artistic intellect. Whenever we have discussions we manage to devolve into arguments, tears, and raised voices. There is a stubborn streak in each of our personalities that clash drastically when we discuss, nay argue, about things. We are so immobile in our beliefs that we manage to not even be able to agree to disagree. When we are all together, we act like a bunch of idiots, making jokes and discussing some of the most bubble-gum of topics, however, we also have these discussions that go in-depth into each of our scientific, metaphysical, religious, artistic, and political thoughts. It is very similar to how discussion sections in college were. Throw out an argument and then defend it until the last breath with evidence. These discussions not only round out our intellect, but they allow us to refine our ability to have healthy debate. However, we always have the issue of how we actually talk.
As an English major I learned how important word choice is. Making the decision to use “blue” as an adjective versus “lapis lazuli” can have implications beyond the basic understanding of the color. For example, “lapis lazuli” has biblical symbolism so it can have a greater connotation within the context of a story or subject. As a result, I pay attention to words within arguments, discussions, suggestions, and written work. To the scientific mind, or the relatively non-artistic individual, this is not something that is actively done. And therefore, their understanding versus my understanding divides. I see implication, I see symbolism, I see connotation, I see verbal discrepancy, and what it may mean in an overarching theme within the discussion. It provides for some interesting conversation, and it also provides for some very loudly expressed opinions and premature tears. And though we are all smart (you should seriously listen to us, it’s like a college course with theoretical discussion and practical application), we always manage to run into walls. We always manage to insult one another. And we always, always, always manage to leave the conversation fuming about this, that, and the other.
When my dad and I drove back from Davis, California at the beginning of April, we stopped in Ames, Iowa to visit my sister. We came in on a Saturday night and left on a Sunday morning. In the morning we went to Village Inn for breakfast. The restaurant was insanely busy and we sat there waiting for our food for forty or so minutes. We each were downing cups of coffee and discussing various subjects ranging from government to politics to public policy to school districts to novels and literature to movies. It was one of the most enlightening conversations I had in a long time. It felt like my mind had come alive again. I have had more of these moments in the past six weeks than I had in the previous few years. It felt like intellectualism had died and miraculously been brought back to life à la Lazarus. I viewed this moment as a positive affirmation of my return to the Midwest. I chose to look at it as a sign. A good sign.