I am an English major. I like English things. I am with a group of English lovers. This is all rather obvious to anyone who knows me, or who has even glanced at this blog. But on my last Saturday in London, I went to the science museum. Dani and I searched the guide book for something fun to do. We settled on a museum different from anything we have seen thus far. We would not see any pictures of the wives or daughters of King Henry VIII. We would not see the burial place of great poets. We would play. We would be young again as we sought out all of the “hands on” activities. And we would learn about this crazy subject called science.
It turns out the science museum was actually quite poetic. I am also a psychology major, so Dani and I wound up exploring interactive parts of the brain. We slowly flipped through all of the information. And then we played the games that went along with it. I heard what my voice sounds like as a male and as an elderly person. I found out whether I thought like a male or like a female (I think like a female, this did not come as a massive surprise). I identified facial expressions and I interpreted body language, even with certain body parts missing. I learned about twins and the effect of genes. I saw the human code in its massive volumes.
I read about the language of the smile, how all smiles are universal. Children in Papua New Guinea who had never associated with any outside nation or tribe show the same signs of happiness as children in the United States.
I never realized the importance of faces. One exhibit read,
“Look the world in the eye. Take it on the chin. Keep a stiff upper lip. Face the music. But don’t be cheeky or you’ll end up laughing on the other side of your face. And stop being nosy. The words we choose tell us a lot about how important faces are to us. Face is something you can keep, lose, or save.”
Faces are more important than I thought. I read about the people who cannot recognize faces. I read about the thousands of faces I have encountered that I have forgotten, and thinking back on Portobello Market and the Changing of the Guards, I found I definitely agreed with that statement. Our face is just a couple of eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Everyone has a face. Yet our faces are the most memorable parts of us. We don’t analyze people by their elbows. We remember loved ones and strangers by their faces.
The next section told me about things I forget, including faces. “We must forget to survive.” I took in that deep statement. It’s one of the facts that, yes, I always sort of knew, but I never understood just how true it was. I stay up late into the night to try to capture every moment of this trip in words. But some things, I am going to forget. It’s impossible to remember every bite of food I’ve taken, every face I’ve met. And I am glad I can forget. There is room for new memories to be made. Room to learn about forgetfulness, the brain, pain, faces, and science. What I do remember will be used to build up future experiences that will delight me momentarily or turn into treasured memories. So, here’s to science!