The Magic of Exploring Rabbit Holes and Why You Should Explore Too
All of my friends can attest to my habit of exploring random rabbit holes of information (what can I say- I just love learning from everything besides a textbook). According to Wikipedia, rabbit holes are defined as “the learning pathway which a reader travels by navigating from topic to topic while browsing” and it describes an experience that is almost uncontrollable. The term originates from Alice and the Wonderland but throughout the years, rabbit holes have gained notoriety. We’re constantly pressured to make to-do lists and remain hyperfocuesd/specialized- how could anyone have time to get so passionately tangled up in a new topic?
However, I firmly believe the best parts of life can’t be planned and we must be open minded to new ideas. Moreover, not all rabbit holes have to be useless or random: many of my long term projects, fascinations, and commitments originated from a “rabbit hole.” I’ve detailed some of my recent explorations below but most importantly, I’m encouraging you! Just allow yourself to follow your curiosity.
My Rabbit Hole Adventures (Where They Originated and What They’ve Led To):
My teacher and research mentor showed me a copy of the “American Scientist” magazine which featured a team making biocompatible materials with electric potential to grow bone- it seemed so perfectly science fiction and I decided to keep reading papers:
- strategies for engineering hearts, brains, kidneys, livers; manufacturing synthetic and natural materials; methods to lower cost; talking to restaurants to use waste as a material for the pancreas I’m designing.
I’ve been experimenting with low cost biomaterials for the past four years, interned in tissue engineering, and want to continue tissue engineering research during undergrad and beyond!
Ethiopian Spiritual Music:
I came across a serene Ethopian spiritual hymn while listening to the “Pray As You Go” podcast which propelled me to find playlists of other Ethopian spiritual songs (my mom likes it too). I also started reading about:
- decolonial movements in religion, spiritual dances, differences in liturgical celebrations, nuances in church architecture, and Ethopian pop music.
From this experience, I think I have a better understanding of the diversity beyond my religious community which makes me appreciate annual migration mass even more.
Christmas Towns to Oulipo:
We read “Invisible Cities’’ by Italo Calvino (definitely recommend you to read) in Literature class while learning about geocriticism and our teacher mentioned Calvino was part of Oulipo. Oulipo was essentially a squad of math and philosophy geniuses who also wrote literature.
While working on project to create a visual representation of one of the cities Calvino described in the novel (which I envisioned as a year-round Christmas town), I read about:
- Christmas towns and the mathematical constraints Oulipo used to write. Amongst some of the most interesting constraints, Oluipo writers would replace every noun in a text with the seventh noun after it in a dictionary. I naively thought I’d never have writer’s block after learning these techniques (but at least they’ve helped).
At the beginning of quarantine, my best friend (ya tu sabes, shout out to Queen Quiche) and I would work out together every day. She introduced me to a *HYPE* fitness dance channel and since we both listen to a lot of Spanish music, I was curious about other styles of workout dances.
I have a playlist of 300 videos for quarantine dance parties! I’m also keeping a list of dance styles I want to explore.
Aliens and UFO Themed McDonalds:
My other best friend and co-writer on Coast to Coast times has been fascinated by space travel and the possibility of extraterrestrial life for a couple months now. Hearing about those daily tangents, I started learning about:
- conspiracy theories, SpaceX, religious views on aliens, Area 51, and even planned a vacation to Roswell in New Mexico.
Have you watched the Phineas and Ferb episode where they build rockets and go to Mars? If so, do you remember the restaurant on Phineas’ and Ferb’s star? Apparently Roswell, New Mexico has a UFO themed McDonalds which looks similar to the P&F restaurant! I’m definitely going on a road trip with friends to Roswell and getting a milkshake from the UFO themed McDonalds.
Allow Yourself to Explore Rabbit Holes:
Rabbits holes preserve an undying curiosity and wonder for the world — I feel most alive when I just let myself get lost exploring. There simply is so much to think about, read, and discuss. I think we should leave our checklists for a bit- here’s to spontaneity and chasing an idea!
Can you explore at least 1 rabbit hole every day this week? I would love to hear from you through text or in the comments — what obscure topic did you learn about? Did any of those curiosities turn into longer term fascinations?
Until next week,