Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Last Frontier

There probably isn’t an inch of the planet that hasn’t been Google-mapped and outer space is simply too cold, distant and expensive to travel to. But for those with the explorer’s spirit, there is yet one more frontier that awaits us—the human mind. Such a mysterious place!

For example, I’m in the rhythm of my book-writing now and I’ve noticed how I go to sleep with a sentence and wake up with a paragraph. How does that happen? Last night, I thought about submitting a proposed lesson for the next Orff Conference and the wheels kept churning in my dreams and presented me with the full proposal by daybreak. On earth, we have the surface ground and then the unseen foundation beneath it, a place where underground streams flow to erupt into springs and roots are watered. In the mind, we have what we consciously think with some directed will and intention and then all of it sinks down into the subconscious and keeps swirling and whirling and then sends it back up again, sometimes fully shaped and formed. If anyone is restless for mystery in this life, why, there it is!

Of course, philosophers, poets, spiritual seekers have been investigating this strange, marvelous land for millennia and now neuroscientists have joined in chopping up bits of brain in the labs and using computer scans with electrodes. But using the mind to understand the mind has its limitations and to be honest, no one has more than an educated guess about how the whole thing works. But neither do we need to know—it’s enough that such enigmatic processes are still doing their work. Particularly for those who pay attention and go to bed with a question to be chewed over.

If by chance we ever Google-mapped the mind the way we have the earth, there would still be one more vast mystery left to explore. That bodily organ that can open us to beauties and sublime feelings beyond what we ever thought possible or close us down into self-enclosed prisons of misery and hatred. That beating tissue that can overpower the mind’s rational agendas and make us vote for people who hate us and do not wish us well. That fickle fusion of valves and ventricals that can lift us up one second and throw us down the next.

I’m speaking, of course, about the human heart. To be continued.

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