Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Little Things, Big Ideas
The world shall perish not for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder. J.B.S. Haldane
No thing is too small to know and no thing is too big to attempt. William Cornelius van Horne
The insignificance of insignificant things is often of the greatest significance. Me, circa 1979.
The first two quotes mean a lot to me. They inspire me to maintain a sense of curiosity about the world (though I really don't need much as I always seem to NEED to know stuff). If I hear a word used I've not heard before or one I've not seen before, I have to look it up. Where did it come from? When was it first used? If I see an insect I've not encountered before, I google it. What is it related to? What can I learn from it? If I hear two different songs with a similar sound or style I look up the writers of said song to find out if they were both written by the same guy or gal.
The third quote came about as a result of a piece of creative writing I had scratched out in an attempt to make a very mundane subject more interesting. It was also an exercise in descriptive writing. The piece was about a chunk of chocolate that was melting on a sidewalk. I have to admit it still is one of my favourite pieces. I described the "careless child" who had dropped the chocolate, the ants approaching it and eating it to take back to their nest, the "hurried businessman" who trod through it and "spread it like a virus with each subsequent step". After I had written the piece, I realized there was a lot more to the story. I thought about the child who would have been upset about the loss of her precious candy, the windfall for the ants, and the unmindfulness of the businessman to his surroundings that he would walk through the mess.
After considering all these things, I realized I had accomplished what I set out to do. I took a rather insignificant idea and found greater significance to it. And then it hit me. Life is kind of like that sometimes. Ever try to light a fire without a lighter or matches? A 2 dollar item can make the difference between freezing to death and surviving til morning and rescue.
So what does all this have to do with MS? If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you knew I'd make the connection sooner or later (and in this case, later). First, a sense of curiosity is necessary to figure out the whole MS puzzle. Scientists NEED to want to know how to put it all together. Second, we need those scientists to consider every part of our brain and body when studying this disease, from the teeniest molecule of fatty acids to the larger systems. The CNS is a part of the process of MS, but not the only part. Our nerves may be small but the system they are part of is huge, literally and figuratively. And third, when we do figure out this puzzle, it will be because someone thought of a two dollar widget that can fix it.