Friday, August 04, 2006

Brains, Chemicals, and the Internet

Coffee in the Washington D.C. skyline mug. It has fireworks on it and anyone who got through yesterday deserves fireworks today. Yesterday was one of the worst days I have had in a long, long time--a statement which leads inexorably into a philosophical discussion of just how bad could it have been as I still have all my limbs, my life, my friends, family and security. That is a discussion for Stranded in the South, but frankly I don't have time to be posting hither and yon right now--one a day is all I can manage--so it is going to have to shoe-horned in here. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.

Every minute of every day someone is being horribly (by definition) tortured, mutilated, maimed raped and/or killed by someone else on the planet. So how can I even begin to whine about what a lousy day I had yesterday and expect any recognition or sympathy--even from myself? How can I be completely shattered by the one damn thing after another day I had in comparison to what the people living in Israel and Lebanon are going through?

Then there is a friend who just spent weeks in the hospital and went through extreme abdominal surgery with pain and tubes and drainage bags... blech. Surely my little trials of dog poop in the car, kilns running at 750 degrees all night, cupcake delivery scheduling woes and web site design companies who take six months after promising three weeks and then don't deliver the crucial piece (password protection) at the end should be taken in stride with the phrase "Thank God this is the worst of my trials" reverberating in my head.

The words I am looking for here are context and spectrum or range. Our brains like to feel needed. They have a whole bunch of chemicals that they dole out to us to make us feel happy, sad, enraged, suicidal, ecstatic, you name it. They do not take into account anything outside of their own context which is the daily life of the bodies they inhabit and direct. Brains also do not all work together with some of them sending out sorrow chemicals, and some of them sending out joy chemicals based on the comparative life circumstances of their bodies. Each brain pretty much ignores the others and convinces that brain's owner that the only circumstances that count are the ones the owner is personally experiencing.

Not only that, but just because things aren't bad doesn't mean the brain won't make you think they are. If everyday is the same--and pretty good so you should be pretty happy--the brain either gets tired of the same old same old or just runs out of the chemicals for joy and so decides to shake things up a bit and send out the chemicals for extreme depression. Maybe it figures we need to experience a constantly shifting range of emotion. And maybe it's just some brains that are like that. Brains like mine. Rationalization? Pathetic excuse? I don't think so.

Yesterday did have a bright spot. While I was making my delivery to Creative Spirit I saw an ornament dangling from the mirror in the bathroom. It was a little fairy sitting on a crescent moon with the quote on it "Tell me, what is it You plan to do with your one wild & precious life?". The words resonated in my bruised soul so I asked Becky where she got it and she said down the street at So Rare, a little vintage garden furnishings/antique store in Decatur. When I had to run back to the studio (for the second time) to get the stands I forgot to bring for my delivery I drove past So Rare so I stopped in and bought one for a pick-me-up.

This morning I did a web search for a picture to post here and I found so much more that all of my synapses fired at once and are now shorted out for the day. Bruce Sterling (and my husband) can eloquently yet concisely verbalize the explosion that happens in your head when something gets shoved in your face that, in the context of your own life, shows you how much your life and your connection to the world has changed because of the internet. Alas, I can see and feel the idea in my head, but I lack the verbal skills to describe it.

Suffice it to say that from my little seach for an image I found first a place to buy the ornaments on-line (and bought five cards with the Precious Life ornament on them to send to friends) complete with a bio and personal information on the Portland Oregon artist Laini Taylor who made them. Then I found her blog. Then I looked up the originator of the quote, Mary Oliver and the poem it comes from, "The Summer Day".

So what was one little spot of inspiration yesterday now has a rich context full of details on the lives of two more American women artists, all thanks to the internet. And for the first part? I am going to go back to influencing my brain's choice of chemicals with caffeine and alcohol and Just. Get. Over it!


Bill Paley said...

Caffeine and alcohol?!?

Say it ain't so!

Brenda Griffith said...

You are quick! I barely got this post up> And yes, I am back to coffee and wine. Start me up, slow me down.