Category Archives: Being human

The God part of the brain

Stroke of Insight, is a TED talk (and who can resist a TED talk? Not I.) You can find a transcript of the talk also. Here’s the ending.

When I awoke later that afternoon I was shocked to discover that I was still alive. When I felt my spirit surrender, I said goodbye to my life, and my mind is now suspended between two very opposite planes of reality. Stimulation coming in through my sensory systems felt like pure pain. Light burned my brain like wildfire and sounds were so loud and chaotic that I could not pick a voice out from the background noise and I just wanted to escape. Because I could not identify the position of my body in space, I felt enormous and expensive, like a genie just liberated from her bottle. And my spirit soared free like a great whale gliding through the sea of silent euphoria. Harmonic. I remember thinking there’s no way I would ever be able to squeeze the enormousness of myself back inside this tiny little body.

But I realized “But I’m still alive! I’m still alive and I have found Nirvana. And if I have found Nirvana and I’m still alive, then everyone who is alive can find Nirvana.” I picture a world filled with beautiful, peaceful, compassionate, loving people who knew that they could come to this space at any time. And that they could purposely choose to step to the right of their left hemispheres and find this peace. And then I realized what a tremendous gift this experience could be, what a stroke of insight this could be to how we live our lives. And it motivated my to recover.

Two and a half weeks after the hemorrhage, the surgeons went in and they removed a blood clot the size of a golf ball that was pushing on my language centers. Here I am with my mama, who’s a true angel in my life. It took me eight years to completely recover.

So who are we? We are the life force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. And we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. Right here right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere where we are — I am — the life force power of the universe, and the life force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form. At one with all that is. Or I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere. where I become a single individual, a solid, separate from the flow, separate from you. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, intellectual, neuroanatomist. These are the “we” inside of me.

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Cincinnati proclaims February 12, 2008 Darwin Day

The Free Inquiry Group of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, Inc. (FIG) is pleased to announce that the Honorable Mark Mallory, Mayor of the City of Cincinnati, has proclaimed February 12, 2008 as “DARWIN DAY.” You can read the press release and actual proclamation on Edwin Kagin’s blog.

John Welte, Sr., President of FIG, who had requested the Proclamation, said he was very gratified to see the City of Cincinnati continue its historic support of science, reason, and free inquiry. “This is particularly important in light of the fact that there are constant attacks on the evidence of evolution by the ‘Creation Museum’ here in our area, by educators who want to allow the religious viewpoint called ‘Creationism’ to be taught in our schools, and even by candidates for the Presidency of the United States. Evolution has been clearly established as one of the most robust of scientific facts,” Welte said.

The breast pad thing

Hard to imagine anyone who likes a mammogram. At best, there must be those who don’t mind it. It’s not that it’s particularly painful, for me, because it’s not, really — it’s, just as they describe it, more uncomfortable than anything — but I have bad feelings about it. Deeply bad. I resent it: that I have to do it; that there’s controversy surrounding it’s usefulness especially in the face of the procedure itself, the radiation, as harmful to the human body; that there is the disease of breast cancer that is directly attributable to our toxic environment and as such, preventable, and nobody is doing a thing about that. Resentful and fear. Will I, despite my best efforts, going out of my way to avoid the foods, the cosmetics, the g-d water of  rustbelt, not quite post-industrial cities, be one of the ones struck down?

But I do my best with this resentment and fear; you know, all the right things to manage the stress (because stress is a killer, too! you know). Yoga. Deep breathing. Etc and so on.

So I go to the hospital at the appointed time, which actually includes an extra fifteen minutes pre-appointment time to run through another registration cycle. I mean that this on-site physical registration is on top of an earlier pre-registration by phone that took about thirty minutes of my time one afternoon.  After it is clear that today’s registration is stretching well beyond my appointment time, I get annoyed. I point out to the person on the other side of the desk that I’m late for my appointment and that I hope this doesn’t mean that I will then be kept waiting further for my service. Nothing. More clicking on the keyboard keys, more scrutinizing the screen at data I can’t see, then the helper/clerk gets up and goes out of the space, no comment. She returns with another clerk, who after much pointing at the screen and further key-clacking, confirms that, yes, all is as it should be. “Pardon me,” I say, “but what was the purpose of my having spent thirty minutes pre-registering by phone only to come here and go through another lengthy process that causes me to miss my appointment time?” No good answers, the consulted clerk scurries off, my clerk gives (at least) a tepid “I’m sorry” and wan smile. This is something to take up with those powers who be who have enacted processes that are not working as they should. Will I do that? Probably not. Throw more of my time away. Unlikely. And so it goes.

Back in the Breast Health Center, I have indeed missed my appointment time. It turns out that I will wait. But first, more papers to fill out. The chipper clerk behind this counter hands me a pamphlet and wants to know if I would like the breast pads, which cost $5, just check the box here yes or no.  Meanwhile, there are other women coming through, and asked again verbally by the clerk who I must assume just does not bother to look at how each women has checked her form — surely she can read yes or no. Many of the women answer affirmatively. I sit waiting. And think, why? Why if this is now understood as a standard of comfort, a little foam pad to put on the machine to ease the cold, the discomfort of the surface, why put the burden on the patient? What does it mean to decline? (I don’t care about myself? My breasts can take it?) Where in the hell are all these used pads going? Consider there is no “away.” What a gimmick!

A cold and broken Hallelujah

Dutton, who is, (according to the bio — see the link) , a professor in Miami University’s Department of Architecture and Interior Design, and is director of the university’s Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine, gets it right with his guest column, which I was really pleased to read. It’s not just that he is spot-on with the Drop Inn’s contribution and value but that he points out the terrible problem with the Enquirer’s previous approach to its earlier, Jan. 12, “story” on the Drop Inn in terms of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood’s current and ongoing gentrification.

The front-page headline of The Enquirer on Jan. 12 read “Will Drop Inn Center be pushed out?” bolstered by the subhead “Some wonder if homeless shelter hurts Over-the-Rhine development.” If those questions weren’t bold enough, readers were encouraged to register their opinions to the question “Should the Drop Inn Center move?”

The prejudicial character of these questions should be obvious. People say that to really solve a problem, the question that frames that problem is crucial. These questions are no example of a decent framing. They are sly and specious, harboring assumptions that in no way reveal what the Drop Inn Center is and does. Example? The questions presuppose incompatibility, and worse, that such incompatibility rests with the Drop Inn Center. The questions place you too far down the road to recognize a more fundamental question: What is our society’s capacity for empathy?

Read the rest of the column here: The Enquirer – Drop Inn Centers power is capacity for love