Sunday Thoughts / The Wild Brain

The natural world demands growth. The world made by man demands confinement, diminishment, and unhappiness, especially for female children. Nature gives us everything and then man takes it all away. This is the challenge that we face at birth.

 

Cold is a positive force in the dark early morning and a presence in the room. Cold is welcome, as if in waking we have come down from a place too near the sun. The sun’s radiation feels like a god’s hammer striking the body with great effect, after traveling 93 million miles our way. Its power startles me, walking on the dusty ground, rocks pulverized by the weight of sunlight, the sun pushing on my back, on my shoulders, pushing me across the surface of the earth, sucking water from my mouth and skin, the vapor vanishing into the air, into a blue glassy sky, taking water back into the world.

We think we can see a foreshadowing of disaster or great fortune in paper images that are flat and frozen. We want to read photographs as if we are seers, but we are simpletons whose minds fail to see the wild soul of a person or the complex dynamics at play in a street scene or landscape, or the delicate interactions on a colorful reef. The brain readily accepts pictures for real places: symbols and words are accepted as accurate descriptions. Truths fade into untruths. The story that we seek to pin down in any human history is many layers deep, a cross-section of individual experience that if eroded like a canyon wall would reveal that we are not visitors to the earth, we are composed by the earth. Mankind’s estrangement from nature is barely millennia old, and from this illusion of separation and dominance we believe that we have created the world.

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Emotions are the reactions of instinct, which is an ancient guidance system that cannot be ignored. Emotions are physical reactions that alert us to conditions in the environment. We stand our ground or run away from threats without a conscious thought. The emotions of a tiger, horse, or elephant cannot be removed from what they are; neither can human reactions be excluded from who we are. In the lives of wild animals the stress created by an event comes and goes in a few seconds and then balance is restored. Many animal species learn to regulate emotions; mothers teach their cubs or pups how to shut down motion for safety or pull the trigger on adrenalin. The human desire is to reorient the young animal to obey an exterior source of control – social authority, which often excites and disturbs the nervous system. This produces a chronic state of stress that would be intolerable for a wild animal. We never let balance return to our human children and raise them to be emotional junkies.

There is one thing that no other person can do for a child, which is to create a selfhood that is distinct, integrated, and truthful to experience; to become an adult who thrives and is not at the mercy of others. The first step toward maturity may be a child’s defiant discovery of the developmentally taboo urge to say No! Resistance is like natural fire that clears the mind of tangled interdependence, and it is healthy. If a child resists long enough; fights for an independent life long enough; takes hold of whatever knowledge will free her, regardless of the source, or where it may lead, and thus leaves behind the war on human behavior and takes her instruction instead from the great wide reality of nature, then sanity may be earned.

 

 

 

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