Reading Minds

Reading is the closest we can get to reading someone’s mind. This transcends time and technology. Four hundred years ago Galileo shared his excitement about seeing the moons of Jupiter, giddy over a telescope he had just carefully built and improved over earlier models. When I read what he wrote, I was in the same zone; I had just bought my first telescope. The process of learning how to use it was very rewarding and seeing celestial sights directly was thrilling.

Galileo’s account of joy turned to grumbles when a cloudy night arrived; he felt cheated. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at that; I understood his frustration completely. Four centuries separated us, but his shared thoughts created an instant kinship.

Thirty years ago I was in college and got into a correspondence with the girlfriend of a friend. He shared her letters with me, and when he wrote back I started adding comments in the margins. She responded to the comments, my marginal remarks got longer, and eventually we were writing our own letters. Long before we met, we were getting into each other’s heads.

I still have those letters, through many moves and other relationships over the years. They’re special because that meeting of the minds, that degree of sharing, was and is uncommon. Much of what we wrote was temporal, of interest only in that time and place, among the people we knew, but the important parts were not so much what we experienced; it was what we learned and how we felt about it. We were two people still making our way in the world, figuring out how to make sense of it, and trading notes.

The connection has endured. (Damn the detractors; Facebook is a wonderful thing). Ellen is one of the broads I’d hoped would start her own blog, and she has. You can find it here:

So go ahead, read her mind. It’s a beautiful thing.