The first part of work Monday was very slow… nothing to do. So I thought. My mind began to wander and I looked at the large window and wished that I had the dry-erase markers that I keep next to my bathroom mirror. I used a yellow legal pad instead. To many ideas and I couldn’t keep a single thread among them. Each simple thought itself has threads of meanings assigned to them that one is aware of when bringing up the original thread. If I were to say “Bird” then it also brings into mind the knowledge (background, ambient, white noise knowledge) of singing, flying, fleeing from cats, nests, worms, early one gets a worm, tweety, cage, bird cage, robin williams… etc…
Sometimes when I express the simple lines of the thoughts in my mind to others, I am sometimes embarrassed that they only see the word “bird” instead of the other salient meanings. Much of the time my thoughts are filled with the salients. I cannot often look directly with my consciousness upon the thought. It is like looking at faint stars in the heavens. To see it you must look to the side of where the stars are because of the blank zone in the back of the retina. To see the star, look to the left or right and you’ll see them appear. Such are my thoughts much of the time.
Sometimes I’ll take a walk. Sometimes with a thought as to where I am going, most of the time not. Sometimes I cannot think on the problem directly and I’ve got to go watch a tree in the wind or the sunshine through the rain, or a cat stalking grasshoppers in the flower-bed. I’ve got to let thoughts “stew”.
I used to carry a small notepad on the middle console of my car. I’ve lost it, but it had diagrams and flow charts of ideas. One idea to the next to the next. Sometimes logical and predictable, sometimes not. Sometimes I’ll look at a flow chart and have no idea as to what drove the flow chart, itself a meaningless assembly of connected lines and phrases.
Monday morning I drew a simple diagram of the spinal cord and the brain, the human brain. I drew different layers of the brain. Here is roughly the diagram I drew.
This took place in about 5 minutes and I was soon swimming in ideas. The lines were made on the paper to monitor my thinking. As I remake this sketch I notice how simple it appears and again it is embarrassing were someone to see what I’ve written here. But the devil is in the details. Nearly each block contains with it a large amount of meanings. The first three chapters in William James’ book “The Principles of Psychology” were heavily toned in philosophy. James is not afraid to lead in his explorations with a question, a habit that I’ve gotten out of doing myself. My fault for reading too much philosophy where the author writes in a very definitive tone.
While I was thinking these swimming thoughts, trying desperately to find a common vein, one of the workers asked me what I was thinking about. I said “the brain, it’s structure, and consciousness”. He asked why and what good was it. I briefly told him that many people hold onto the notion of the “ghost in the machine” concerning the human mind. Could further understanding of the brain uncover this to be a fraud? Could we learn what really made us who we are and why we think the way we do (and why we think at all). He asked “didn’t science already have this figured out and why not become a doctor?” Because I do not want to concern myself with kidneys and their structure, and we’ve yet to scratch the surface of the brain. Imagine a cure of alzheimers and schizophrenia! Imagine a cure for other degenerative ailments of the brain. Imagine better learning and memory recall. Imagine a life less directed by impulses and unsatisfactory drives. (now I”m starting to sound like a mad scientist, bwuhahahahaha).
I may have to take another sleep aid tonight. For nothing keeps me awake so much as my own thinking. Many are the nights when thoughts fill my mind to a degree that I cannot shut them out. I do not complain though… for it is who I am and it is, for lack of a better phrase… a blessing.
But oh how we consider only those that benefit or ail ourselves personally curses and blessings (meaning that if I were born 8 feet tall and able to dribble a basketball very well and play for the NBA, I might call that a blessing, though at this moment I have no desire to play basketball… possibly because I cannot play basketball very well at all).