Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can't get there from here

During the years I lived in Boston I occasionally wandered up the coast from Massachusetts to Maine, stopping at picturesque villages, artist colonies and fishing towns along the way, finally reaching the rugged coast near Bar Harbor which remains, after many years and many vistas, just about my favorite spot on earth. Atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, I had a 360 degree view of surrounding hills and numerous inlets, lit pink and silver at sunset, and a prime seat from which to watch the first rays of the sun kiss the shores of North America each morning. Once in awhile I managed to hear snatches of an unadulterated Maine accent and learned what every local knows: "You cahn't get theyah from heeah."
That phrase has stuck with me for the last two decades, popping up like a cartoon bubble in circumstances ranging from getting lost in a city to offering relationship advice to a friend. Currently, it's taunting me as I ponder the divide between the two halves of my brain. I've been exiled in the left brain for so long I've been granted permanent resident status and my right brain no longer recognizes my passport. Tabula rasa, blinking [?] screen, a shaken etch-a-sketch. I am swept of ideas.
Recently, I heard Terry Gross interview Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, who after a stroke was marooned in the right side of her brain. She describes in her new book, A Stroke of Insight, the euphoria and connectedness she experienced while her left brain was defunct. She didn't know where she ended and the wall began. She had no edges. She was totally in the moment. Because the experience was so blissful, she almost couldn't tear herself away from the experience long enough to dial 911. After 8 years of effort she retrained her left brain and regained its capabilities. Had her stroke happened in a different part of the brain, as it has with other people, she might have been stuck on the left side with no right brain function where compositions are reduced to their parts such that one cannot hear a song but only the noises of each separate instrument. One can recognize details but not see the big picture.
Taylor has learned to remain in that state of connectedness despite the fact her left brain is back on board, aware she can navigate a path of synthesis between brain hemispheres and retain her euphoria.
Which, it appears, I cannot. If you have some Evel Kneivel type solution for getting to the other side, please forward. It's really boring over here.


harold said...

careful what yew ask for
'they' may put yew on medication

Karen Miedrich-Luo said...

This is so ironic. I've been doing an hour of sudoku every night trying to get back over to my left side. and to be honest, I feel more like I'm straddling the fence, not really able to immerse myself in one side or the other, afraid to jump in one and lose the other.
Are you in a desert of ideas? Just where you should be so you can more appreciate life in six weeks.

allison said...

I hate that facebook blog comments do not appear on the blog itself, only in FB. And most comments are made there so I'm forced, if I want to be considerate to the kind folks who bother to comment, to post responses in two places. So I lift this from there:

Last week I came across this quote from Flaubert's "Dictionary of Received Ideas":

Illusions: Pretend to have had a great many, and complain you lost them all.

Substitute "ideas" and there you have my illusion.

jenni said...

That is one beautiful photograph, Allison. And I heard Taylor on NPR - fascinating!