Intricate Beauty: Part 1 of 2

Quinn Gormley
March 13, 2024

By Quinn Gormley

“The beauty of the natural world lies in the details.” 
—Natalie Angier

When my hospital chaplaincy cohort completed our final reviews, we had to give (and receive) feedback from our peers—not just our supervisor. One of my peers clearly struggled to speak to me honestly, fearful of hurting my feelings.

"Quinn," he said, "you know a lot. Like, so much. And I love talking to you. But I think you might have an easier time relating to people if you dialed back the information. It's a lot to take in sometimes."

I deflated. Not because this was shocking to hear, but because it was terribly familiar. I've received similar feedback my whole life, and I've worked hard to rein it in.

In part, the struggle comes from a lack of understanding. If I were lost in grief, the first thing I'd want to know is the words for it. And the theory. And the pathway. How else do you get unlost without a map? Information is a coping mechanism. It gives me hope.

In my experience, people who aren't neurodiverse tend to frame neurodiversity as symptoms of inconvenience to people around them. My ADHD is being over-excited, distractible, fidgeting, being too much.

This is not what it feels like on the inside. For me, my ADHD means beauty. This world around us is so unbelievably beautiful that it simply demands my attention. ADHD is only disabling—at a psychological level—because the world is too big to admire fully: everything is interesting, Sadly, I can’t pay attention to it all.

One way I cope is to info-dump: I love to share information, and I love to hear other people share it, too. If someone else knows a bunch about relativity, I can save myself a bunch of time listening to them share about its beauty so I don't have to start from scratch when I go to admire it.

My other coping mechanism is hyper-fixation. I can fall down a hole of fascination with the intricate beauty of something so specific. It’s so distracting, and so painful, to keep to myself. “God made it this way,” I think, “and it’s incredible! I have to show you so you can love it too! Just look: this world is beautiful."

Prayer

Spirit of wondrous creation, I thank you today for the attention you give to each corner of creation: each iota of beauty, each afterthought of awe. I am blessed to live in a world so beyond my comprehension. May I never cease to be amazed by each detail.