The quietest, prettiest morning here, cool and feeling like fall and the forecasts have Isaac heading west and I think of Mobile and what a lovely town it is and how much Mr. Moon and I enjoyed our stay there a few months ago and I think about how these storms are just so very, very real and I think about how odd it is that we don't really give much of a thought to the storms and blizzards and earthquakes and floods that strike others except in passing, Oh my. That looks horrible! Those poor people!
Well, the human brain didn't evolve to be exactly empathetic about all of the information we can receive now about things that happen not just down the road from us, but all over the globe, quick as thought. Although of course, if a child is snatched from a park in a state across the nation, we feel that our own children, too, are more at risk somehow.
We are NOT logical creatures, we humans.
Sometimes that makes me despair, sometimes it thrills me.
I read an article in the most recent New Yorker magazine (oh, thank-you, May! thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!) written by Oliver Sacks, the very esteemed neurologist. It is entitled Altered States, Self-experimenting in chemistry and it's about his early drug use. The man did some drugs, y'all, starting with LSD in 1953 when it was still legal. While in school to pursue his medical degree, he would set aside weekends to ingest different sorts of drugs and he writes about all of this with great honesty and a complete lack of self-judgment and I have to wonder if he would have become the author and neurologist he has become if not for those self-induced experiments with his own brain. I imagine that it is far easier for someone who has blown the doors in on his own perceptions to empathize with people whose brains do not, for whatever reason, process the world and information the way "normal" brains do.
One of my scientific heroes is a neurologist named David Eagleman who has written many books, both fiction and non-fiction about the brain and how it works and I always feel as if I have been given a gift when I hear him interviewed on NPR. He is the man who came up with the idea of a spiritual belief which conforms most closely with my own and I have written about it before. He calls himself a Possibilian or perhaps it is merely a possibilian, small "p", and what he means is, we are far too advanced to accept the old tales of creation and god and yet, we don't know enough to discount any theory about how things got started in this universe. He believes fervently in the scientific process. Come up with a theory and then try to find proof of either its validity or falseness. Go from there.
It seems to me that we humans are living at a time when everything is indeed quite possible. That with what we know and what we are learning and with all of our technology we could make this world a better place for every one of its citizens. Or at least, we could try. And yet, because of the old ways of thought, the militaristic, the fundamentally religious (I include most religions in this), the superstitions, the greed, we are holding ourselves back in ways that are going to spell disaster. While we are obsessing about whether or not it threatens someone's religious belief when insurance companies pay for birth control, we are overrunning our resources on the planet and changing the very global environment in ways hostile to all of life. It's so ridiculous and it seems such a waste of intelligence and of resources that we are doing these things. That instead of listening to the scientists and the learned, instead of facing squarely the problems we are causing ourselves, we are throwing out terms like "elitest" in disparaging ways. We are ignoring facts in favor of fairy tales.
Although of course, I imagine that even the most anti-scientific among the population, if handed a diagnosis of some horrible illness for themselves or their loved ones, will go immediately to the best educated, the most technically advanced doctors they can find, trusting in an elitist education in that case, at least. And then, if a positive outcome is achieved, will invariably give all credit to their god to whom they have prayed to throughout the ordeal, even as the doctors used every bit of knowledge and research and technology and skill for that positive outcome to have occurred. And if the doctors cannot cure or put off the disease, even then the god is cited as having his own plan, one which we humans are not privy to, and given credit in that way- there is always, if we do not understand, that word "faith" which means to believe in something for which there is no logical reason to believe. Meanwhile, that which has been proven is called "theory" and thus, easily discarded, ignored, ridiculed, even legislated against as being taught in schools.
Well. I don't know.
As I said, the human brain is not logical. I take that into consideration knowing how my own brain works and doesn't work.
It is the most beautiful of mornings, as I said, and butterflies are flitting from phlox to phlox, the chickens are waiting for me to come out and weed again so that they can come behind me to scratch up the newly revealed dirt to hunt for tasty bugs, thus aiding me in my gardening endeavors. We have eaten pancakes and strangely, I am missing all of my babies, my grandbabies. I know they are all right down the road with the exception of Jessie although relatively, she is not that far away and that is comforting. And perhaps, if the storm does not take a turn to the East, I will see her too by the end of the week. Hurricanes are no more logical than the human mind and even with all of our technology, all of our knowledge, we cannot collect enough data to truly predict the path or strength of one on the move.
The birds are strangely quiet, I realize right now. That is a bit disturbing. I remember reading The Yearling, one of my favorite books, and realizing how, just a hundred years ago or less, hurricane prediction was based on the observation of the critters and birds who seem to have an innate sense of weather changes which our Big Brains cannot even begin to comprehend. I think about how a Mayan guide at the ruins in Coba was telling a group of people that when the priests of their people died, the knowledge was erased and the downfall of a culture came about. He likened this to us losing all of our scientists and our astronauts, which I found to be a strange choice of comparison.
And Neil Armstrong has died and with him has gone the personal knowledge of what it was like to be the first Earthling to set foot on the moon. But in interviews and in print, he has given us as much of that information as he could and thus, we have stood on his shoulders. Why in the world would we want to do anything BUT that? To observe from his perspective? Why would we want to knock him down and refute that incredible first step? To ignore his famous words?
I don't know.
I don't know shit.
It is Sunday here at the Church of the Batshit Crazy. The world whirls around us, our brains' neurons whirl within us and through them we perceive the whirling, each in our own unique way.
Mysteries and glories and ignorance and awareness and blindness and vision and all of it. All of it too much to comprehend but we can try. Each of us in our own way whether poet or scientist or mother or gardener or truck driver or coal miner or doctor or lawyer or Mayan Priest. Or astronaut.
If we keep our eyes open and our minds even more so, we can, if we want, pull together all of the pieces given to us by all of the others.
We can. If we want.
That's what I'm thinking about today.