High-school Physics

Did you have a fascinating physics teacher in high school? Unfortunately, most of us did not. Many of the fundamental concepts might seem irrelevant to us. For example, how a plane flies or how a train stays on the track around a curve. It only matters to us that the plane flies and the train doesn't derail. Scientists have figured it out and we only consume.

But there is value in understanding the basic fabric of what's around us. It frames our view and our perspective better. It allows us to see metaphors around us. We can see a glimpse of the larger construct around us. We end up copying/emulating in some form or the other.

The double-slit

Light behaves as a particle and a wave.

From Wikipedia

Why the fuck does that matter and how is it relevant? Hey man, watch your language.

If you'd like to revisit the double-slit experiment you must've done in high school, click here. The basic question - is light a particle i.e. made up of discrete units of light? These show up as dots on the screen. Or is it a wave i.e. continuous?

It seems as though we must use
sometimes the one theory
and sometimes the other,
while at times we may use either.

We are faced with a new kind of difficulty.
We have two contradictory pictures of reality;
separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light,
but together they do.

– Albert Einstein

Neither is wrong. Neither explains things comprehensively. But together, they do.

The Complication

In many situations, we approach it as black or white (particle.) In reality, they are on a spectrum (wave.)

Are you for or against this issue? Governments seem hell-bent on dividing us into two and creating a left vs right. And because of our skew towards viewing things as particles, we agree with this method. And many times, pick a side. When in reality, the issue is deeper.  The radical middle needs exploration.

Viewing things as a particle, like black/white, is a helpful construct. Especially when things are confusing or overwhelming. But remember, it does not explain things completely. It needs a complementary theory (the spectrum) to help you understand things deeper.

Our skew so far

We've viewed it through the lens of a particle, of black/white for a while now.

Gender. Religion. The football team you support. The type of company you keep. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

soccer field
Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

In our fascinating times, we are shedding this skew of viewing issues. As only a particle. Instead, we are realising that there's a whole other lens, that of a wave, to look, ponder, and analyse.

The left extreme or right extreme, let's call it the 10%, seems to be the only option. They are loud and clear. But the middle 80% is full of subtlety and this is where most of us are. Via only one tool, we miss out on the beauty of this middle position.

Remember, neither is wrong. Neither explains things fully. But together, they do.

My example

I am an introvert. My past experiences in life affirm this. I have used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. And verified it with competent coaches to know the theory and my personality are in alignment.

But my primary job for the past decade has been standing in front of 100 people daily. Talking, teaching, learning. And I love it!

It is true that crowds and noise exhaust me but not all crowds and noise. I would've missed out on being a teacher if I had stuck to this rigid view.

At the same time, if I had not understood my skew of being an introvert, I would've been terrible at being a coach.

The extrovert part of the spectrum is always accessible. There are tasks and times when it is necessary to be that person. I look at it as a hat to wear. It is not false but it takes conscious effort to move out of my default position.

The extreme end of the spectrum, that's something I rarely touch. Because it is so far away from me that it does not feel natural.

During my 20s, I viewed this from a black/white framework. I forced myself to do things without understanding myself. Then, I stopped doing everything on "the other side."

Today, I have a better understanding of this spectrum. I am able to express myself better and do cooler things.

Your turn

The world around us wants to divide us. ( Do you see the black/white skew of my statement here :D ) And because we need to be here or there, we pick an extreme. Or worse, we choose inaction. Because deep down, we don’t agree with the extremes. That’s great. But we need to use the complementary theory here to dig deeper into our perspective.

You need to see life both as a particle and a wave.

Where have you been blinded by this? Where are you missing out on living a fuller life because you've been boxed in?

These are important questions for us all to think about.

Next time you find yourself picking an extreme, pause. Look at the spectrum. Look at the middle 80%. Use both theories and take your time.