Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.

serendipity

An Exercise in Imagination

Let’s play a game.

I’m going to describe a situation. Visualize this situation in as much detail as you can. Where you are, what you see, what you hear. There will be two questions at the end.

You have a day off, and weirdly, you don’t have any other commitments at all. No family events, no errands, no social plans. The laundry is done and the gym is closed. But there’s this thing in town – a small convention on a topic you absolutely love. You know – you love reading or watching stuff about it, and your friends all come to you with their questions because you know more about it than anybody they know.

You don’t know what it’ll be like, because you’ve never gone to anything like this before, but it’s nearby, so you figure you’ll stop in and just see what it’s like. Maybe just for an hour.

When you get there, you’re surprised because it’s more crowded than you expected. You sidle in and start wandering around. Pretty soon, you’re excited. It’s so cool to be surrounded by all this stuff and all these people. Every conversation you walk by is one that you want to jump right into.

Sooner or later, you actually do. You’re looking at one display and the people next to you are chatting. Before you realize what you’re doing, you look up and correct a point. You apologize for eavesdropping, but they love it, and your conversation continues through to lunch, during which you all keep talking. Afterward, you go your separate ways, but you get each other’s information to keep in touch.

A couple of other people who became part of the conversation ask your opinion on one of the tangents that came up. You wander around looking at the rest of the place. Before you know it, you’ve spent the whole day there. It’s been awesome.

Ready for the two questions?

What were you wearing? Where were you when you interrupted that conversation? What fact did you correct?

Got it all?

Are you sure?

Okay. Here goes.

What was the conference about?

And… is that what you’re doing for a living?

I’m feeling very thoughtful about things like this today. This scenario occurred to me and I thought I’d share it and see what other people got out of it too. 

Comments

Sarah Morgan

Well, the only real questions I was curious about were the last two. The other ones were just for thinking.

In addition to media ethics, it sounds like you’d have fun giving a TEDx talk. Just curious – have you ever thought about either of those? (You’d have been way more interesting than my media ethics professor, bless him.)

Louis C. Hochman

That’s way more than two questions.

To snarkily answer the last question first: Steven Moffat wont let me write, direct or star in Doctor Who for a living, no matter how much I beg.

I’m wearing jeans, or shorts. I’m almost always wearing jeans or shorts.

It was Big Think gathering. Futurists and physicists and actors and musicians and philosophers and magicians and all sorts of other people talking about interesting and neat ways to look at the world, some of them on the periphery of our current understanding of it. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Penn Gillette and Bill Nye and Bill Nighy.

I correct a couple who missed a key point in a recent RadioLab discussion about the possibility of generating other universes from within our own (and the possibility our own universe was so created). I point out that, at least according to the discussion, the new universe would occupy its own space, and not displace us in ours. And then we start wondering what it really means for there to be different space, different emptiness. We wonder whether the barest facts of existence are subjective. None of us -really- know what we’re talking about. We’re entirely out of our depth, but we love playing with the ideas. Tyson comes in and shares some actual, qualified perspective that lets us know we’re not too far off from what some of the folks doing real work in the field are exploring. And that’s neat.

It’s definitely not what I do for a living. Neither are a few other ideas that jumped into my head**. Some are things I might want to do, if I didn’t do what I do. But I love what I do, and none were things I’d want to do at the expense of what I do.

It wouldn’t have occurred to me to spend my day off doing more of what I do. I don’t think that’s a sign I haven’t embraced my field, or that there’s something better waiting for me to discover it. Journalism is a good fit for me. A great fit. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t close seconds among my interests — there are lots and lots of them. I’m glad to be able to dip my toes into those pools from time to time.

** Well, one is. It occurred to me after writing the rest I’d probably have a blast at a media ethics conference.

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