“Nothing’s Where You Think It Is”

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Hubby and I are big West Wing fans. We own the DVDs and have watched them straight through multiple times. It’s not even about the politics; it’s about the writing and the characters. Every episode is just awesome, and often in a blow-your-mind kind of way, giving you new things to think about.

I showed this clip from Season 2 to my students last night as we talked about providing reasons and evidence for your position. But what I really love about the clip is (a) the quote “nothing’s where you think it is” and (b) the fact that you really can turn the world upside down — and blow people’s minds — just with an idea.

Think of the famous times throughout history: the sun rather than the Earth as the center of the galaxy, the Earth being round instead of flat.

A few years ago I found out that what I’d been taught about dinosaurs as a kid was wrong because it turns out the Brontosaurus never existed. That blew my mind for a minute. I mean, it was everywhere! There were like twenty Land Before Time movies starring a Brontosaurus. And then suddenly it not only wasn’t there, but they tell us it never had been. Weird.

But I must like having my perceptions shattered frequently, because I adore reading books that blow my mind. Most recently it happened with What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell. It’s set in post-WWII America, and the character and her family go down to Palm Beach, strike up a friendship with a husband and wife, and then the husband and wife are thrown out of the hotel for being Jewish.

It’s one of those times where you go, “Wait a minute! That was the Nazis, not us. The Nazis were the ones persecuting Jews. We went over there and fought against them! How could we be doing something so Nazi-like right here at home?”

The world is complicated, isn’t it?

We chip away at Truth a little at a time, figuring out the lay of the land, the globe, the galaxy, the universe. But there’s always something we’ve gotten wrong and have to relearn.

Something will go wrong in my vegetable garden, like me planting something at the wrong time or in the wrong way, and I’ll think, “Well, I’ll get it right next year.” And with society, it feels like it takes a generation at a time to fix things. I grew up not having any clue when someone’s last name was Jewish or Italian or whatever and certainly not thinking that it mattered. Maybe there’s hope that my kids won’t be bothered by homosexuality and some of the other prejudices we’re still dealing with now.

Maybe sometimes it’s good for us to see the world upside down for a minute, to flip-flop our perceptions of top and bottom, black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. Keeps us open minded.

It’s good to keep learning, keep forming new connections in our brains, and keep thinking that there’s always a chance we’re wrong about everything. Yeah, there’s some insecurity with that, the way C.J. says, “You’re freaking me out.” But again, if we flip things upside down, maybe insecurity isn’t so bad. Especially if it keeps us questioning the world and our own perceptions of it.

Can you think of anything that’s blown your mind recently, whether a book or a news article or whatever?

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4 responses »

    • 😀 LOL. It was around the time that my kids were old enough for dinosaur books with the real names and I kept looking through the book going, “Um, why did they leave out the best one? Where’s the Brontosaurus?” Then I Googled it and learned all about the mix up with the skull and whatever.

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