Wow. It's been a long time since I did one of these, and I am glad to be back. I actually expected this to be much more difficult to be honest, but it feels natural to continue and hopefully match the rhythm I'd established before I took a short break. I guess whatever momentum I built up is strong enough to survive a short writing hiatus.
It actually seems like taking these kinds of breaks can be beneficial. Which is good to know, because this is certainly not the last time I'll be forced to pause. Don't teachers and academics sometimes go on sabbaticals? To me these are pretty indistinguishable from a regular extended vacation, but I guess the point is that it's a vacation specifically given to you by your employer for the purposes of improving your output.
That's the idea anyway. That taking a step back for an extended period of time will make you better at whatever kind of focused or creative work you do. To clear your mind and let you return with a new, fresh energy. Which, of course, seems true to me. Of course taking breaks is helpful. Ideas need time to marinate, and the one thing a regular schedule doesn't afford you is a lot of time.
I did roughly plan out my timeline for when I'd get to 1000 of these. Something like 2035 or 2040, if my pace stays at roughly 2 posts a week? And taking sabbaticals will undoubtably slow down this timeline (I actually wonder what the impact is of taking a month or two off from a decade long project). However, I don't think it really matters - that's why I didn't set any hard deadlines. If slowing down a bit will let me write more thoughtfully and grow as a writer, then it seems like there's no issue as long as a finish eventually.
I can already feel myself drawn to the feeling of writing, and I think that's a really good thing. There were many times where I thought to myself - I should really note down these thoughts for a potential word vomit. Of course I never actually did note anything down. Maybe I should try to in the future, but for now let's find out how well I'll remember everything I want to say.
As for this post - I recall wanting to say something about museums. Unfortunately, the specifics of it escape me but let's see if I can figure out why I made this mental note.
I did get to see a bunch of museums recently. And, I thought all of them were extremely cool. I think their impact may be slightly lessened by living in the age where all of humanity's collective knowledge is one Ok Google! away. Imagine a time before telephones, when even postcards weren't a sure thing. Some of the museums I visited are from this time period. Imagine the sheer amazement you'd feel walking into one of these vast temples of knowledge. You wouldn't just be learning some new facts - each visit might introduce knowledge that completely reorients your worldview.
But aside from the historical perspective, a good museum is still an amazing experience today. What you have to realize that these exhibits aren't just Wikipedia pages - abstract collections of interesting yet ultimately impersonal facts. Many of the halls you walk past represent the culmination of many people's life work. The painters on display in an art museum, the biologists or anthropologists responsible for a zoo. Science museums especially, since have a special fondness for science; I enjoy it when they cover the grueling road to discovery that many inventions took.
Museums require appreciation for what they represent. It's very possible to experience them just as a collection of Wikipedia pages: interesting, but ultimately an intellectual curiosity. Or even worse, as a collection of hallways to be walked through before you get your money's worth. However, I think doing so misses what makes them special.
If I had to pick one adjective to describe me above all else, I think I would choose curious. When you go to a museum and walk those hallowed halls, you experience the result of thousands of curious people dedicating their lives to figure something out. The pretty looking artifacts or hands of exhibits are fun, but they're mere window dressing hiding the real treasure inside. The stories of these amazing men and women who had an itch in their brain to discover or invent, and refused to stop scratching.
On top of that, you have to marvel at the fact that for the situations where these people didn't already dedicate their lives to putting their work on display, you have countless donors and philanthropists to thank for acquiring such pieces and presenting to us unwashed masses.
Why do these people, who could presumably afford whatever they want or even keep all the goodies to themselves, choose to support the great cause of museums? I think it's because even they, despite whatever money and power they may wield, stand in awe at the greatness of the inventors, explorers, and visionaries who brought us here. Even hundreds of years afterwards, their achievements shine so bright that it demands to be put on display.
Awe is not a common feeling to experience. After your pass the tender ages of youth and are exposed to some of the harsh realities of life, it's something that might be hard to ever experience again. But, if I had to pick one place where awe can be witnessed on a regular basis, I'd probably pick a museum. Probably more in the kids, but even in some adults too. Whatever stories the education system tells itself about their academic worth, I think that field trips to institutions like a museum can be some of the most valuable moments of a child's schooling. That awe transforms into inspiration, which then might become an idea which someday changes the world.