That’s Going in the Quote Book: #13

The newest in an ongoing series of Quotes I’ve collected. To see previous posts in the series, click here.

I love a road trip. Put me in a car and point me towards the horizon, and I’m happy as the proverbial clam. I discovered this after I moved to Nova Scotia and started driving back to Ontario to visit. I’d leave on Friday after work, drive all night, with a quick break for a nap at my favourite roadside rest area – yes, I have a favourite roadside rest area, at Rivière-du-Loup – and generally hit my destination sometime Saturday afternoon.

Ron also loves a road trip, and we’ve done our fair share of straight-shot overnight destination-oriented drives together. But he also reintroduced me to a different type of road trip, heading out in the morning – maybe with an ultimate destination in mind, maybe not – and seeing what you see along the way.

The first of these road trips we ever did together took us to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. I don’t remember much about the museum beyond a section that had various Bell quotes adorning the walls. It was there that I scribbled this on a piece of paper to add to the quote book when I got home.

I have heard a ray of sunlight laugh and cough and sing.

Alexander Graham Bell

Bell said it in reference to the photophone, which transmits speech on a beam of light – kind of the mother of fiber-optics, as I understand it. Not that I understand it well. My brain and science get along in some subjects, and not at all in others, and this is definitely an area that I struggle to wrap my head around.

That’s why I like this quote. One thing I can wrap my head around is language, and this is a beautifully poetic way to express a scientific concept. Up until that point, I’d spent a lifetime of thinking that science and art are diametrically opposed. Aptitude tests taken during my school years were all geared towards determining what direction the rest of my life should take, with only two possible options being given: scientific or artistic.

I never questioned, or even, for that matter, thought about, this idea that science and art only ever occupy their own individual spheres. But Bell’s words encouraged me to look at the world in a different way, and now I see just how often they overlap. It’s everywhere, with my favourite example being in cars – especially those of the high-end sports variety. After all, if you’re going to charge exorbitant amounts of money for that level of engineering, it had better be pretty to boot.

A sculpture that can go 350 km/h.

I took the above photo of a Ferrari Laferrari at the Museo Enzo Ferrari in Modena, Italy. I once spent a few happy hours there, wandering from car to car with my cameras. I don’t often take photos of the entire vehicle, instead narrowing my focus to bits and parts that both speak to my personal aesthetic sense and that I think highlight the marriage of art and science.

After I took this photo, I stepped back and nearly tripped over a little boy, maybe ten years old, who was standing close behind me. I apologized and got out of his way, exchanging a smile with his mother, while the boy went up to the Laferrari and started taking photos on a cell phone.

I noticed Ron was grinning, and asked him why. He told me that the boy had been following me around for the last half-dozen cars, watching what I was doing. When I moved on, he’d go up to the car I’d just left and take photos from the same angles as I had.

I enjoy finding the patterns in my life and the threads that join together my personal stories, and this quote certainly provides that. The thread is cars, from a road trip in Nova Scotia to a museum in Italy. And the pattern is learning to see old things in new ways. Bell’s words started me on that journey. I hope that maybe – just maybe – I helped that little boy halfway around the world start his.

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