To Quote Albert Einstein...

This quote, by Albert Einstein, has long been one of my most favorites. (I even used it as an epigraph in one of my poems).

Today I found the longer version of the quote, which reads:

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

Albert Einstein

And what I love about the longer quote is that almost thrown off conjoinment, "true art and all science." Because art and science are not often joined together this way. In fact, I would say most people put "arts" and "science" in two completely different categories ("Arts and Sciences" buildings on college/ university campuses, for example).

One is either/ or. Not usually both (and when that's the case, it's unique, rare, different).

We think (nowadays) of artists as slightly woo-woo (believers, if you will, not necessarily in a religious sense, but in the "creative force") and we aptly categorize scientists as skeptics (which they are, but not necessarily religiously or even philosophically. See the wikipedia page for three different types of skepticism).  In many cases, these are very apt descriptions. But I think we all deserve to be seen on a deeper level and I think at that deeper level the "true arts and all science" really do share that sense of wonderment that Einstein was referring to.

I happen to be married to a scientist (a research psychologist)  who is also an artist (a skilled vocalist and violinist, who also picks up other instruments for fun). His creative side is often overlooked by people who first meet us.


But here's the thing you don't get in a first impression of my oh-so-hot-and-preppy-looking husband: he's amazingly passionate and creative. And despite his outer skeptical layer, the inner man has many awe-inspiring (and private) beliefs. He may eschew many woo-woo beliefs, but he has his own spiritual system.

And here's what you don't see in your first impression of me (who is oh-so-colorful-and-hippy-looking): my inner self has just as much of a skeptical layer as his outer layer. Yes, I probably do ascribe to many more woo-woo beliefs (I have more than a passing knowledge of the tarot, Feng Shui and other New Age systems). But I am still skeptical. I do not believe easily. I enjoy tarot and Feng Shui (and astrology) but I am not a "true believer" by any stretch of the imagination. They're fun tools. I like them. And sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. (And usually when they work it's because one wants them to work...)

"You may call me an agnostic... I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being." 

Albert Einstein

And I hope that's true for most people, if we dig down deep enough: we all share the awe that conjoins art and science. We all have many layers. We are all mystical and skeptical (to varying degrees). We are all both scientist and artist. If we let ourselves go deep enough. If we dig past the religious indoctrination (or our refusal to submit to it) and we see just how big and vast and amazingly mysterious this world really is.

When we open up our eyes to the wonder that is all around us, we all feel awed. How we express that awe is unique, individual, but it is part and parcel of the (awake) human condition.

Are your eyes open? Do you see the beautiful in the mysterious? Do you identify more as an artist/ mystic or as a scientist/ skeptic. Am I simplifying too much (or not enough)? What do you think?