I read Surely You Are Joking, Mr. Feynman! Richard Feynman tells stories from his life, from learning to fix radios when he was ten to helping build the atom bomb to playing bongo drums in a ballet. It’s a very entertaining book.
We happen to have bongo drums at home but I almost never play them. After I finished the book I got them out and started playing. The fact that Feynman played bongos made it more interesting to me.
A few months ago my girlfriend gave me for my birthday a gift card to a day spa that has an isolation tank. Isolation tank is a coffin half filled with salt water, and tries to deprive you from sensory experiences to help you meditate and relax. So I went and stayed an hour in the tank and was not overwhelmed. In the book Feynman tells about his visits to an isolation tank and his experiments to hallucinate there. He was quite enthusiastic about it. Now I’m thinking, why didn’t I see it that way?
It is curious how something becomes interesting merely when someone we admire does it. Doubly so in this case because Mr. Feynman followed his own interests, not anyone else’s. That more than anything else set him apart and above the most of us. His curiosity on actual things, not the social theatre around them, let him see what others didn’t.
Imitating Mr. Feynman’s actions makes us less like him. Imitating his attitude, more like him.