A note on enthusiasm.

No bikinis here, sorry. The top part of this little project has been finished, however, and I’m hoping to finish the rest of it tomorrow after we return home from a trip to JPL for their open house. Road trip! Woo-hoo!

Just finished watching Dr. Who. I love this show. I love the Doctor. I would so be a companion. But it got me thinking about something.

We the family went off to see Anousheh Ansari talk at UCSD this past Tuesday. It was a great evening–TMoTH went all Secretarial and developed some information boards about the present and future of (private) manned space exploration for the San Diego Space Society, Geeklet got to wear his jumpsuit, all over with patches, and remote-drive models of the Sojourner and Opportunity rovers, and we all got to hear Ms. Ansari’s talk about her experiences as an astronaut on the ISS and about the Ansari X Prize.

So after the talk, while all were filing out of the auditorium and clogging the exit by stopping to say hello to the featured speaker, Geeklet just sort of followed his own path and meandered up to the stage from the uncrowded non-exit side of the room. He stood up on the stage and loudly called out, “Ladies and Gentlemen! I will now give a talk about the moon!” and raised his arms imperiously. After a moment, perhaps nonplussed by the lack of response, he repeated his announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen! I will now give a talk about the moon! So SIT DOWN!”

Some did. Evidently that was all he needed, for he then spoke for a few minutes, then meandered over to Anousheh Ansari from the other (non-crowded) side of her. He looked up at her thoughtfully for a few seconds as though reading an interesting placard. She looked down and picked him up. She, an attendee, and my son were photographed by some random attendee friend, who then left the room. Wee G wandered back to me, and we too left so that G had a few minutes to finish his snack, hidden behind the information boards.

I share this not to illustrate Geeklet’s precociousness–in general he is not precocious, and I work hard at that. But as I sat here earlier tonight knitting baby socks and watching the Doctor’s adventures, I realized that he and Geeklet share something astonishing: neither assumes they can’t do something.

Neither one assumes he is unable to achieve something.

There is an understanding that if some goal is desired, action is taken. There isn’t a sense of inability-at-a-certain-point, no knowledge of a glass ceiling, and most importantly, no fear of being laughed at. If it can be dreamed up, it can be obtained. Now obviously, in the case of a fictional (sigh) science-fiction hero, that’s easy: Just write him that way. And a four-year-old has no sense of the depth of life, the nuances, like personal space and boy, wouldn’t it be strange if I did the things he did. But there you go. I assume that I would receive odd looks if I stood up on stage and said, “I will now talk about the moon.” But then again, who knows? Those people there were interested in space. Maybe some would have sat down for me, too.

So it makes me wonder how many things I talk myself out of before the ideas even get to the what-if stage. Does an overdeveloped sense of self-protection from ridicule or failure shoot down ideas even before they make it to the drawing board? Of course it probably happens and quite a lot. But how often? Most of the time? How sad would that be?

So this week’s experiment: to be aware of how often I shoot myself down. Just a tally. No huge ground-breaking personality changes. Just a check.

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One thought on “A note on enthusiasm.

  1. Anousheh is really, really nice. We met her at the X-Prize Expo in 2006 and she was friendly as could be. I’m glad to hear she’s a good friend of Ben’s now!

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