Sunday, May 8, 2011

Jaded? Geeking Out!

Jaded
adjective /ˈjādid/ 
Tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something.



Becoming jaded is a frightening state to contemplate. What is the point of life if one is bored of it? What is the point of learning if nothings surprises or inspires?
If one does become jaded, are there degrees of this condition? A way back?
Are those states a defense mechanism to over-stimulation.. the brains way of prioritizing information?

I have been accused of being so interested in everything, that I can derive no special pleasure from any one topic. Can interest in everything lead to a "relative jadedness?"

However, recently I have experienced situations that seem to border on the truly jaded, and was a somewhat new experience.

My wife is taking cello lessons, and is captivated by the instrument. She is striving to master and enjoy playing the cello, and experience a new creative outlet.
During this process, she asked me to attend her first recital, and afterwords I had a chance to have a conversation with her instructor.

I firmly believe the ability to "geek out" on a subject is the key indicator of a persons love and enthusiasm for a subject. Geeking out is not only the pervue of techno-geeks, or of Harry Potter fans. Geeking out can encompass any topic of interest and is indicated by a person being able to discuss the minutia and wonders of a topic. One can geek out over music, or the cello, or butterscotch taffy!

I also suspect that if one can induce a person to start "geeking out" about something, one is on a good start to making a new friend.

I started asking some questions of the music teacher, who immediately started geeking out music, the cello, and music theory. His topics ranged to how digital music could never fully replicate the natural sound of a cello with perfect fidelity, do discussion of the golden ratios, musical scales theory, even tempered tunings and Pythagoras.

It was fun, and I was happy to learn his opinions, discover things I did not know, and experience how a musician experiences and thinks about physical topics.

In particular, he was very excited and wanted to show me something cool about a piano string.

He lifted the foot mute pedal on a piano, pressed down the lowest note on the piano (B) and played several other notes. He then muted all the other strings, and noted how the string was able to vibrate and "hum" at those other pitches simultaneously.

"Isnt that cool?" He enthusiastically asks.

All I could think to myself at this point was. "Umm... yeah?"

I did not share his awe and enthusiasm of this observation. This was a phenomenon with which I was familiar, could explain, and have observed many times.  I felt bored, and impatient with him, wanting something more than the twist the discussion had taken. Here he was about to show me something really cool, and he shows that a string can support multiple resonance modes at the same time?

But at the same time I had a small frisson of fear, and a little guilt. Here was someone who had noticed something about the world that was not trivial, and I was offhandedly dismissing his observation as trivial, boring, and not pertaining to my enjoyment or excitement.
This was the beginnings of being jaded.

I believe that begin jaded starts when one is dismissive of the pleasure someone gets in observing or doing somethings which you have done or observed many times before. Being jaded is forgetting the thrill of experience, the joy of discovery. Being Jaded is thinking you know all there is about a subject.

I caught myself at this moment in time, and realized that there was no way I should be bored about the music teachers observation of higher resonance modes of the open B string of a piano. If I was bored about the topic, that should be a signal that there is more I can learn about it, more depth to the topic I could explore!

Or, at the very least I could enjoy vicariously the thrill of discovery and learning that the music teacher was experiencing and appreciate his need to share this with me.

I can only hope that I can catch myself before entering this state more often than not, and not let "jadednes" ruin my life experience, or dissuade others from sharing theirs. Find a way to geek out, and one finds a cure for being jaded.