That’s So Cool!
One of Zeinab‘s (Sonthofen, Germany) most delightful mantras is,
That’s So Cool!
In fact it’s so cool when she says that, that it became the name of this website.
One of Artem’s (Perm, Russia) most delightful mantras is,
I get it!
Even though Zeinab and Artem have excellent English skills, part of the frequency of these phrases might be due to English not being their first language. Even with English fluency, they must have a smaller vocabulary, and idiomatic phrases are probably more elusive. So when you learn a phrase like That’s so cool! or I get it! you might tend to use it a lot.
But I think there’s more to it than that.
I’ve read so many Oliver Sacks books that I no longer remember in which of them he made a particular insightful observation, but in one of his books Sacks offers that disease can, at times, rather than take persona away, strip a person down to their irreducible essence.
I don’t exactly think that That’s so cool! or I get it! are Zeinab or Artem’s “irreducible essences,” but I do think that those phrases say something fundamental about Zeinab and Artem.
Zeinab is a lot about That’s so cool! She’s 18, young, energetic, happy to be alive and eager to discover this world of ours. She loves being excited, discovering new things, and exclaiming, That’s so cool!
Artem is probably the most observant and sensitive visitor I’ve had. He’s aware of a lot and he asks a lot of questions. When your answer makes sense, he replies, I get it!
As I watch myself typing the phrases That’s so cool! and I get it! I notice that they have, just as strings of English words, no particular impact or resonance at all. They’re banal enough to be what passes for “Fortunes” in Fortune Cookies these days.
These phrases only come alive when I hear, in my mind’s ear, the vibrant life force, and wonderful accents, of Zeinab and Artem. That’s when these otherwise banal strings of words become the magic that is Zeinab or Artem.
It reminds me of a conversation I once had with David Wilson and Aimee Bender. We spoke about things like “truth” and “facts”, and noted that these days Google can deliver most facts in a matter of seconds. But that deeper human truth is far more elusive. That maybe it’s something Google can’t deliver at all. That maybe it’s something that must reside corporeally in the body of the speaker.
I don’t want to get too carried away about a couple of simple phrases, but when I hear Zeinab say That’s so cool! or Artem say I get it! I feel like I’ve had a real experience of a unique human being.