It was a scene like so many others. One of the key characters of The Americans, FBI Agent Beeman, sits across from Martha, the secretary from his office, at her home one evening. The vibe is uncomfortable given Martha’s role in planting a bug in their boss’s office. He doesn’t know this though. She wants him out of her apartment and says something to the effect of: “well, I have an early morning tomorrow.” The implication? Get the hell out of my apartment asap. Of course she uses different language but we can all read between the lines.
Yes, we all use coded language like that and we don’t think twice. But last night, for some reason, it struck me as remarkable. Our brains are so sophisticated, so beautiful, that we have the ability to decipher the verbal, physical and emotional cues of our fellow human beings within seconds.
As someone who is surrounded by digital experiences and introductions to new digital formats everyday, I am sensitive to how much digital can do for us. But I am also sensitive to how much it can’t. Our brains are so amazing that they can interpret so many elements at once to help us thrive minute by minute.
Last year Nancy Kanwisher gave a beautiful talk about the beauty of our brains: “The Neural Portrait of the Human Mind.” She showed us where certain brain functions where happening inside of our brains. It was certainly amazing to see how much scientists have discovered and equally amazing how much they still have to discover! The best part of her talk was how she admitted that it would be wonderful if her discoveries led to medical breakthroughs. But, in the end, she said, isn’t cool just to know that much more about ourselves?
Amen. By understanding how gorgeous our brains are — how fantastic it is that we can communicate on such sophisticated levels with others — we can be that much more excited and energized with our daily lives.
We shouldn’t take the beauty of our brains for granted. They are the probably the most beautiful aspects of who we are.