In mid March, somewhere in my social media world, (was it Facebook? Instagram? Youtube?), an ad popped up for The Great Courses Plus.
I have never been to college, and went to a prestigious Performing Arts High School and then theatre studies in a Conservatory, so my general knowledge of say, SCIENCE, has always been pretty lacking.
So when this ad appeared in my world, and with it the possibility of learning new things that I probably should have learned years ago, it was highlighted to me like a shiny diamond in a stack of dirt.
The advertisement mentioned FREE MONTH, which made the diamond even more desirable.
So on a random sunny afternoon, I signed up.
Immediately browsing through the site, I felt like I was scrolling through the 'Netflix of Courses'.
I started a queue, in it 79 courses I had interest in - from mindfulness courses, to courses in philosophy, wide spectrum of writing, the art of gardening, neuroscience, cognitive behavioral therapy, even some tai chi and many many more. (79 is no joke. I am an ambitious learner!)
When this 'Stay At Home' order began, in my city of Los Angeles, I knew this was not going to be just a two week thing. I was following news from my family overseas and could see the spread of this virus was only going to get worse for us in the United States. So I decided to take my first course - put my time into learning and try to avoid stressing as much as humanly possible. I had my ups and downs with it, as we all have, but the possibility of taking a course has always been there, waiting patiently in my first tab on the chrome browser on my laptop, asking me 'Are you ready to take me on?'
And so, one day I did. I looked through my watchlist, and chose my first course: CRITICAL THINKING.
I don't know what instinct pulled me in that direction, or why THAT ONE, of all the courses that I could take...was it intuition? Divine intervention? 'Little man in the machine' stirring me in this direction?
Who knows. If I use what I have learned from this course, then the probability was that my personal history has showed me how easily news and information can be spread easily and recklessly in high stake situations, and maybe I should keep my mind as capable to handle all that as I can. Shortly after I started this course, I started noticing the outpouring of conspiracy theories, fear mongering, and misinformation in the wild wild web. Friends have sent me 'bombshells' after bombshells urging me to wake up and join their 'team' of disbelief in the cruelty of the government, or Bill Gates, or 5G or WHATEVER.
But alas, what they didn't know, is that I HAD TOOLS.
Tools of critical thinking.
I am still learning how to utilize these tools - and what better way than in a global tragedy that is inviting all kinds of bogus theories and some that may not be bogus at all - but unproved nonetheless?
So yeah, I've had to practice what I've been learning daily, and my critical thinking muscles? They are getting stronger and stronger every day. And through this 'adventure of critical thinking' (yes, kids. Learning can be an adventure!) , my appreciation to the scientific process has grown immensely.
I used to think science was the enemy of the artistic mindset - the one I have been primed to adhere to since birth. Now I see, the two are of the same. They are both rooted in the action of QUESTIONING.
In the scientific process - we don't have the answers, and we seek them, so we start experimenting.
Then, after many experimentations, we conclude a possibility to unleash to other scientists who will begin their own experimentations to see if the possibility we came up with is a reliable one, and therefore it could be peer reviewed, agreed upon and as reliable as it can be with the data we have.
In the artistic process - we begin with the beginner's mind, the 'I don't know' creative spirit, and then experiment through the process of creativity, to then find a gem we may decide to share with the world - for the world to have their experience of our gem. Be it a painting, a film, a melody.
The audience, or receiver of the art, is entitled to have their experience, and in this way, art takes on a collaborative form even when the artist is long gone to create her next masterpiece.
Perhaps it is my brain connecting the dots between these two giants: ART & SCIENCE.
Actually, it is very likely that it is only my brain.
But I choose to follow this belief, which hopefully will lead me to be at ease with BOTH mindsets and not have the need to choose one over the other.
'Are you right brained?' 'Are you left brained?' 'Are you more of an artsy person?' 'Are you a science type?'
I choose to be BOTH.
After all, they both begin by saying openly, unafraid and with inspiring courage: I. DON'T. KNOW.
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman