No it’s not the beginning of an elaborate joke. It’s the night before TEDx and my fellow speaker from CERN Rob (@knoopsrob) is explaining that string theory is a way of understanding a 10-dimensional universe where 6 are hidden away in wiggly, squiggly worlds of their own. Apparently the way to think about it is like an ant walking around on a water bottle… Got that?
It’s something I am still thinking about the day after my TED talk, wandering in a beautifully leafy square in Sofia staking out the area for a Street Wisdom event we are holding here with the Aleksander Foundation. I always like to get myself tuned up before helping others tap into the huge database of insight that’s latent in our city streets. As I start really paying attention around me (as opposed to just thinking stuff), I look up and it seems like the trees are sprouting – string. Even by Street Wisdom standards, it’s a surprise. I rub my eyes. The strings are still there. I know the climate is changing, but…STRING? What is going on?
As so often happens in a Street Wisdom experience the answer is nearby. I spot some environmentalists holding up their Sofia Green Tour sign. One of them explains. Yes, this is a sign of climate change, but not as we know it. It’s a Bulgarian tradition. Old as time. On March 1st – Baba Marta – or Granny March day – Bulgarians give each other these red and white bracelets – martenitsi – from their loved ones. White signifies male energy, red the female. It’s a talisman against evil and a symbol hope for the future. You wear the bracelet until you see the first Stork in the sky. With that proof that Spring is on the way you cut the string and tie it to a tree.
In two days I have been connected to deep science and ancient ritual. The very new and the very old. As I wander off down the streets wearing the red and white bracelet the environmentalist has tied on my wrist as a friendship token, I am reminded of another TED talk, by the wonderful Philippe Starck who reminds us to lift our sights, not to get clogged in the everyday and remember that we are only halfway through the human journey. We’re at the mid point between humanity’s past and future. Let’s keep going. It is, as they say, a wander-ful life!
I’ll let you know when the TEDx event organised by Roman and his wonderful volunteers at the American University in Bulgaria is online. (Great event guys!) You HAVE to hear what my fellow speakers have to say.