Opposites attract. A somewhat hackneyed generalization, but in my case the adage is apt. The Man of Mans is my greatest love but we experience the world through contrasting perspectives. I’m an artist. He’s an empiricist. I’m an emotionally-driven, dreamer, running madly off in all directions. The MoMs is quite literally math genius, brilliant, rational and unfailingly reliable. Seriously, y’all, dude NEVER loses his keys.
I used to swear up and down that I would never get married. It’s ironic that a mathematician changed my mind on the matter. My youthful disdain for marriage was rivaled only by my deep dislike of concrete sciences.
I took the requisite math and science courses in high school, primarily to appease my well-intentioned parents. They wanted me to go to univeristy and study Marine Biology. That way if my plans to work as a stage actor fell through, I’d always have oceanography as a fall back career.
High school science was le suck. In my opinion it was the forced memorization of random facts, with absolutely no room for experimentation or exploration. There was no creative potential. In the beginning I did ask a lot of questions. But most of the time, my quest for deeper understanding – or any understanding – were met with the same answer,
“It’s just a fact.”
So I shut up. And I shut down. And a quiet, but very deep resentment of science and all the subjects that seemed predicated on explanation “it’s just a fact” began to develop along. Horrifying marks in chemistry and biology developed as well. I was summoned to the guidance department. The conversation went something like this:
ME: “I don’t know. I just don’t get it,”
GUIDANCE COUNSELLOR: I think you should consider dropping your sciences. You’re clearly not a concrete thinker.”
I was more than happy to take her advice. I said good-bye to science and wrote it off forever. So I wasn’t a concrete thinker. So? Who wanted a head full of hard, gray heavy glop anyway? I had big plans to set the Canadian stage on fire. Leave the concrete to the engineers and math nerds.
I graduated high school and went on to study at The University of Waterloo – a school renowned for its world class engineering and math faculties. The MoMs and I met my first day there. After a few false starts, we began hanging out and soon we grew to be great friends. He was unusual and kind. Smart and truly passionate…about math! I found his zeal for calculation utterly disarming. Passion was a quality of artists – musicians, painters, performers! People like me! Mathematicians were just scientists with numbers. They didn’t have passion. They had cold, hard fact and Internet porn!
The Man of Mans was and remains to this day, the most open-minded person I know. I, on the other hand can be immovably obstinate and rigid in my world view. Opposites. It was The MoMs who gently opened my mind the idea that empiricism isn’t bound by the rigid parameters set for me in high school. I wanted to cling to my adolescent viewpoint. But when I let myself look at the world through my partner’s eyes, I see things differently. Engineers and their creations. Scientists consumed by exploration. Mathematicians with great passion.
One of my favourite things about my partnership with The MoMs are our distinct points of view. Even our shared experiences hold the potential for great conversation, because we tend to see things differently. And yet, we seem to understand each other. When I am moved by a work of art, The MoMs knows what that is. And he can analyze that very same piece of theatre in concrete terms, highlighting themes/patterns I wouldn’t notice on my own.
It turns out that art and science are not really about opposites. They’re both forms of expression borne of a human need to analyze, describe and make some sense of this crazy world around us. Concrete and creative thinking aren’t mutually exclusive and artist and the scientist need not be rivals. Sometimes they fall in love. As I learned in physics, opposites attract…and that is a very good thing!