We should be Marveling

May 01, 2023

“When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” -Steve Jobs [1]

I am a person who likes to look for connections. I’ve done it all my life. Wherever I’m at, I like to pause, look around, pick out individual items, and then ask myself, “Okay, what do I really know about that thing?” And often, I know nothing at all.

It becomes a game to learn something fascinating about an object everyone else is ignoring: telephone poles, the red fiberglass cast on the arm of that woman going into the restaurant, a traffic camera thirty feet up on the top of a light pole, two trees side-by-side in the spring weather but one is in full bloom and the other hasn’t even budded yet.

I think we should be marveling at things like this more than we are. I want to teach people to marvel more at the stuff that surrounds them. In the United States, where I live and where we have such a high standard of living, we have grown complacent and entitled. We feel we “deserve” access to the innovations that surround us, and I don’t know that we do.

I think people need to appreciate more how things came to be, why they are the way that they are, how hard our predecessors worked to give us what we enjoy now, and that it didn’t happen by accident. If we first seek to understand, we will then be able to improve what we see and touch and interact with every day. This new information that we will acquire won’t just be interesting factoids that litter our brains. Eventually, the things we know and understand will cross-pollinate and help us craft innovations that will improve the world for later generations.

I want to get better at this, and I want to share what I’m learning with you. It is the reason I pursued a career in Data Science and teaching. I am insanely curious and I want to inspire others to become more curious and then to marvel at what they learn because it makes life so much more fascinating. Join me on my journey, and let’s marvel together.

I’m not a Stee Jobs fanboy or anything, but this is also a must-see clip if you haven’t come across it already: