For my birthday in February, we ended up doing an unplanned staycation (see why here), and decided to hit the Exploratorium, because, let's face it, I was curious. ;-) I had never been, but it had been on my "Things to do in SF" list since we moved here in October. I really enjoyed all the sections of the Exploratorium, but my favorite part was this small exhibit where they measured your brain called Cognitive Technology. In this exhibit, they give each visitor an EEG headset, which measures your brain waves as you engage in different activities. The brain wave pattern is projected onto a screen, so you and your friends can see what is happening in your head as you interact with each station. Gabe and I always knew we were a little different - who isn't? - but we have such similar, rational personalitites that we didn't realize our brains were wired so oppositely until we went through this exhibit.
I think the most enlightening stations were the relaxation chair and the virtual world simulation. At the relaxation station, you sit in a leather arm chair and follow some breathing prompts. Between breathing techniques, it asks you questions about your state of mind and how relaxed you feel. As I went through the exercise, my happiness and productivity brain waves expanded. Gabe, contrastingly, became more stressed as the exercise progressed.
At the virtual simulation, you had a pair of goggles that created a 360-degree-world, where the goal was to levitate rocks with your mind. The landscape of the world changed with your mood, becoming dark and stormy if you got stressed and glowing with lights and shooting stars if your positive brain waves expanded. My world was a dark, stormy, cloudy mess, and removing the glasses left me scowling with frustration. Gabe, on the other hand, almost effortlessly created a world with sunny skies, shooting stars, and rocks that were so beautifully levitated they danced on invisible air currents.
We learned something we had observed, but both tossed up to personal preference before: Gabe thrives in a loud, busy, visually and auditorily stimulating environment, whereas I need less to see, and much less to hear, in order to relax and be at peace. I think it gave us both renewed respect for each other, realizing that we have the opportunity to understand and love through allowing what the other person needs. Sometimes, I need the TV off. Sometimes, Gabe needs the TV, the laptop, and the cell phone all on and making noise. We relax differently, but because we have the priviledge of loving and supporting each other, we make room for that. We love the same and the opposite that we find in each other. And that, Reader, is a beautiful thing.