February 5, 2013

Adventures in brainspace

I am a person who can not and will not watch horror movies. I can't deal with the gore and with people killing each other. So I just stay away from them. Neaves has been trying to get me to watch Red Eye for years because she loves it. I will not. I've heard that American Horror Story is amazing, and part of me is curious, but the rest of me keeps saying, "Are you an idiot? It says 'horror' right there in the title. Go back to your Community and your Bob's Burgers." And I do.

There are some weird shades of grey to this, though. I'm pretty much fine with monster movies. Something about it being removed enough from reality, although there are those where I still have to look away from the screen (Shaun of the Dead, I'm looking, or rather not looking, at you).

So if you had told me even a month ago that I'd be watching a very, very real video of a chick skinning a wolf in abject fascination, I'd have been very confused. But here I am. I'll warn you now, that the video is pretty graphic. The video will warn you, too. It's sorta gross, but also sorta incredible.

The amazing and awesome Hank Green did one of his "Thoughts from places" videos a few months ago from the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at the U of Montana, where he met the equally amazing and awesome Emilie Graslie. Since then, she has started doing her own series of videos called The Brain Scoop. And since then, I have gotten completely excited for every video, and I don't think I've even blinked during a single one of them.

I think the reason I'm so taken by these videos (and I strongly encourage you to go back and watch more of them, too. Maybe start with the earlier ones and work up to the wolf skinning.) is that it's so unlike the sorts of things I normally see and hear about. I love my life, but it can tend to get a little self-contained. I'm not in classes anymore, so I have to really make an effort to read outside my comfort zone, which I do to varying effect. But mostly I can just read what I like. Same goes for the shows I watch, and the podcasts I listen to, and the things I do in my free time.

At least with the podcasts, I've managed to get in some more of these new perspectives. Two of my favorites are the Moth podcast and the Stuff You Should Know. I had a very similar experience with SYSK a couple of weeks ago when I was listening to "Do You Stay Conscious After Being Decapitated?" That episode came out almost two years ago, and it had just been sitting in my ipod all that time because I kept thinking I might not be able to handle the subject matter. I think the only podcast I've ever not been able to finish was their episode on cannibalism. I got about ten minutes in and decided I couldn't take any more. I barely even remember what was being said, but it was enough. But not only did I do ok with the decapitation one, but I was so fascinated that I got exuberant. I was rapid-fire IMing my friend at work because I couldn't just sit there at my desk and keep it all to myself. It was all too interesting to not get to gush to someone about it. And I love that feeling.

That feeling is why I'm willing to keep trying to watch these videos and learn about these things. Because when you're really learning something- not sitting at a tiny desk in high school memorizing things, but actually absorbing and building up your brain with new information- it's so exciting. I hope I never run out of things that give me that feeling. I hope I keep feeling that curious my whole life, even if it means taking on the things I'm not sure I can handle. It's so worth it.

Go learn things, you guys.

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