Find Your Nerds

I'm pretty lucky: I like a lot of things, and I like a lot of things... intensely. It's nice to watch movies and enjoy them. It's fun to listen to music and enjoy it. It's fun to hear a question about possibilities regarding how the brain works and be genuinely interested in the answer. It's fun to be engaged with the world around me--both the one we call the universe (including the marvel that is the constellations and the marvel that is the look in a friend's eyes)  and what I generally regard as the generated universes, the sum of human creativity encapsulated in fiction and film and music and architecture and everything else. 

It wasn't always this exciting to be interested in the world around me. Part of it was me and the admittedly fascinating chemistry that makes being happy (or stable) a little bit of an expert-mode experiment in balance. The other thing is that I didn't always have my nerds for everything I care about. Sure, I can self-sustain my own interest, but it takes someone else lighting up at my little spark of interest to really get a fandom burn going. It takes someone else responding to my little notions about a story to really dig in. It takes them pointing out what I would have never seen to let me see a thing for the first time. Over time, a shorthand builds, and entire people can be explained by naming two characters and a Hogwarts house. 

Thankfully, I've found my nerds, those people who are willing to get to know the thing they love at a level that implies mutuality - the allowance of someone else's generated universe to live on in their own imagination (and possibly heart). In finding these people, I discovered that I can be interested in things I never dreamed of liking, like scientific theories, or practical math, or Harry Potter. It's a pretty great place to be. C.S. Lewis once said that friends don't look each other in the eyes along the journey of life, but instead are focused on the thing before them that they both love. I think he left out a few details, but it's a pretty good way of explaining the basics. Age is relative. There are people I geek out with who are older, and younger, and born weeks apart. That's less important than this: in finding my nerds, I found my friends. 

The other night, after seeing my students shine in Beauty and the Beast, a group of us: four of the older actors, my hanai sister, and an intern went to sushi. My sister teased me for changing a line in the play to be more logically sound (I walked the entire table through a formal logic proof to demonstrate my point). She had, meanwhile, spent her weekend re-learning calculus--just to brush up. One of those actors lent me a book on the brain. She's got my book on creative collaboration. It's moments like these ones that make me realize it's about more than what we love. It's about loving things together, generating new universes inside each other's minds and welcoming worlds into ourselves. It's drinking tea because that last episode was just too good. It's never-ending table reads, and "yeah, I'd love to look at that." It's photos of cats. It's a nerd-tribe, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 


Photo by Eli Francis on Unsplash.