Friday, 29 March 2013

What T-rex Stole

Our brains are amazing propagandists that delude us into thinking our left brains equate to our whole selves.  In the face of dreams, creative projects, scientific breakthroughs and intuition, many of us ignore the right brain chugging on, manufacturing magic.

How can this possibly happen?  The simple answer, language.

Think of your first memory.  How old were you?  Most people cite something from after they learned to talk.  The filing system in your brain puts memory into the language program for easier retrieval.  We think of ourselves as this sequence of verbal memories stashed away in the left brain.

Sometimes, however, a memory doesn’t have time to be connected to language.  You’re at the skating rink and someone veers at you.  Without much thought, you veer out of their way.  You probably remember it and perhaps even in great detail.  But unleash T-rexes in your rink, and things change.  If you’re not eaten, suddenly you’re outside, running in your bare feet and you don’t know how you got there.

That’s because the part of our cognition that we identify as ‘self’ – our left brain – is just too slow in these situations to record the detail.  If you’ve been in an accident or unexpectedly received bad news, chances are there are holes in your memory of it.  The science people have learned that the entire memory is still there, but filed without language.

This is important to everyone’s experience, but if you’re a writer, your craft separates you from vast amounts of your own experience.  That doesn’t shut the right brain up.  Your right brain lives in the ever present, is the wild and savage and gorgeous part of yourself.  It creeps up in the rude thing you said at last week’s party.  It’s dancing around your dreams.  It’s why you don’t like the guy in the orange windbreaker.  It’s painting metaphor and conflict in everything you write.

So I know that the exercises I passed along to you are difficult.  You may even have physical responses to admitting what’s in your core.  The right brain isn’t used to being seen in the daylight.  But it is gold.  Put the work in, know your bits, meet your archetype, explore your core. 

Trust me.  My work in trauma has taken me into the wilds of many a psyche and the core is where your spark of divinity lives.  Let there be magic.

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