Time: Lessons From a Dying Brain

The starship engine spins in winged centrifuge. The growing list of tasks in the mission multiplies its rotational speed and efficiency as the system expands tirelessly to accommodate demands.

That is my brain. THiS is HIS:

A white hum. The wheels dance easily between movement and stillness. Any information that streams in faster than homeostasis approves activates the self-preservation mechanism. EJECT. EJECT. The data overload leaks through a sleek aperture, which physiology translates into IN ONE EAR, OUT THE OTHER.

My husband’s brain is a fascinating piece of machinery. It refuses strain. Barring any unforeseen tragedy, he will likely outlive me because he lets go of the past easily, does not fret over the future, and functions in a simple, elegant neurological circuitry that permits only one claim upon his attention at any given time. Trying to be less of me, I find myself asking, What exactly does it mean to be “in the moment”?

human_brainNeuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor experienced a life-changing stroke of insight that left her unable to speak, write, read, or recall her past:

Our right human hemisphere is all about “right here, right now.” It thinks in pictures and learns through the movement of our bodies. Information, in the form of energy, streams in simultaneously through all of our sensory systems and then it explodes into this enormous collage of what this present moment looks…smells, tastes, feels, sounds like. I am an energy-being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere.

Our left hemisphere is a very different place. Our left hemisphere is all about the past…and the future. Our left hemisphere is designed to take that enormous collage of the present moment and start picking out details, and more details about those details. It then categorizes and organizes all that information, associates it with everything in the past we’ve ever learned, and projects into the future all of our possibilities. And our left hemisphere thinks in language. It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world. It’s that calculating intelligence that reminds me when I have to do my laundry. But perhaps most important, it’s that little voice that says to me, “I am. I am.” And as soon as my left hemisphere says to me “I am.” I become a single solid individual, separate from the energy flow around me and separate from you. And this was the portion of my brain that I lost on the morning of my stroke.

…And…my left hemisphere brain chatter went totally silent. Just like someone took a remote control and pushed the mute button. At first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind. But then I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of the energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there. So here I am in this space, and my job, and any stress related to my job — it was gone. I felt lighter in my body…imagine what it would feel like to lose 37 years of emotional baggage! Oh! I felt euphoria. And again, my left hemisphere comes online and it says, “Hey! You’ve got to pay attention. We’ve got to get help.” And I’m thinking, “I’ve got to focus.”

When I woke 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. Stimulation coming in through my sensory systems felt like pure pain. Light burned my brain like wildfire. And my spirit soared free. I found Nirvana. But then I realized, “I’m still alive! And if I have found Nirvana and I’m still alive, then everyone who is alive can find Nirvana.” And they could purposely choose to step to the right of their 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 me to recover.

So who are we? We have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. Right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere, where we are. I am the life-force power of the universe. 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. Which would you choose? Which do you choose? And when? I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner-peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project.

That’s wild. I can’t imagine my inner radio going silent, taking my words with it. As for the life application she draws, I don’t know. We need both hemispheres tending to the moment. In the conversation she had with herself as her consciousness wove in and out, Bolte (that is, her left brain) kept urging herself to pay attention. And mindfulness is very much paying attention, isn’t it? I understand the power of sensory presence was such a new experience for her that it felt as though she were inhabiting reality more fully than she ever had with her linguistic and analytic brain. But I think cognition, comprehension, and the ability to name our experience complete awareness.

In the film Still Alice, we see Columbia linguistics professor Howland losing more than her memory to Alzheimer’s. Our history is part of our emotional, spiritual, and even physical anatomy. The past with its challenges, trauma and joys have forged who we are and given us the ability to meet the moment with knowing, with intelligence, strength, hope, gratitude and our bag of dysfunctions. If your past crumbles to ashes, you lose your autobiography, and can’t fill the new page. An illness or accident robs you of your past and hollows out your present. You forget why you came into the kitchen and lose the intention, and therefore meaning, of the moment. Psychologist and professor Dan Gilbert seems to make sense of this:



If you ask most people what’s real, the present, the past or the future? They say the present. Actually, they’re wrong. The past and the future are both real. The present is a psychological illusion. The present is just the wall between yesterday and today. You know, if you go to the beach, you see water and you see sand, and it looks like there’s a line between them, but that line is not a third thing. There’s only water, and there’s only sand. Similarly, all moments in time are either in the past or in the future…which is to say the present doesn’t exist.

As he says, most of us feel that the present is hard ground. But for the steadfast hands of the clock and the turn of seasons, we don’t experience time as an unending sea of movement that unseats the present from its place. And naturally, for we apprehend the material world with our senses and what we see and touch is obviously real. So what does this mean? How do I stay grounded in the shifting sand of time? Well, this moment is ephemeral but not elusive. And I’ve found that perspective makes all the difference in the way I relate to it. When I perceive time as a scarce commodity, the Bargain I have to fish out from the daunting Clearance pile, I approach the table with a measure of angst. Put the chicken in the oven, run his Spelling audio, check his math, email her about this week’s get-together, change the windows appointment, be sure to review Geography. I won’t get to write today! But when I trust that I’m not the one creature out of the eight billion on the planet who needs 28 hours in her day, I can let go the frustration that the sun sets too soon on the day’s hopes. I’ve been given the hours to do what I need to (bonus thought: to do what gives me joy. And take joy in what I’ve been given). What about multitasking, the great Zen no-no? I don’t see how anyone can mother (or blog successfully) unpracticed in the art of efficiency but what puts me in the marrow of the moment is consciousness in purpose, which call upon both the thinking and feeling parts of my brain. I’ve probably overthought this. I should study that right brain of my husband’s some more.

182 thoughts on “Time: Lessons From a Dying Brain

  1. What you state has been plaguing man since time was first described. And therein Yurik lies the rub. I can’t convince myself of this even though I know – there is no such thing as time. I once described time as the relative motion in consciousness, compared to the relative motion of the background of experience. In Quantum Mechanics time is the collapse of the wave function, the moment when energy becomes matter, when consciousness recognizes the universe for what it is, just a fleeting though that is constantly evolving into another and another and another. What you describe here is attachment, and while there is nothing wrong with it, as we are truly 3D physical beings, we let go of attachment as life become less complicated. Dr Bolton’s experience gave her a unique perspective, not unlike an NDE where people describe what they saw but have a problem framing it in words, since it was an experience outside of time. I’ll avoid the whole UFO thing except to say that one of the theories (I like) is that they wink in and out of our time – our dimension. They time travel to us, in the same sense that a 2D creature would be in awe of us moving in 3D – adding height to their perception they would deem esoteric – if not impossible! Time only exists since consciousness exists. I have concluded that time equals consciousness, the fourth dimension is not time – is it consciousness? – no more so than the way we look at time … The fourth dimension is a folding of the fabric of existence into and onto itself. Let’s just let that be and stick to practical matters – You are doing just fine – your socialization and your husbands are different, and of course that includes you being female and he male. Trust that the universe will slow all this down, as the children mature, leave for college, and their rooms become your study … A place to reflect on where did the time go … it didn’t ! It’s still there …

    • You’ve left us a post, Peter. “where people describe what they saw but have a problem framing it in words, since it was an experience outside of time” Very interesting, and it describes Bolte’s experience. Or you can approach it from the opposite angle, which is how I saw it: she lost time when she lost her words. Language not only enables us to describe time but in that capacity, frame it and therefore enable it. That is, make time real to us.

      “Time only exists since consciousness exists. I have concluded that time equals consciousness” What we’re circling around is the question of consciousness. Bolte jettisoned her left brain and found this treasure. I am holding onto that brain of mine for dear life to maintain consciousness. Which brings us to the intriguing attachment you bring up; I am not fit to speak of Buddhism but your thoughts gave me an inkling for the Buddhist view of time.

      “A place to reflect on where did the time go … it didn’t ! It’s still there …” Ha ha ha. I hope so!!

  2. Spanish has two relevant words for you:
    manana , with a tilde on the first n . . . . . means “later”, or even ” eventually”, and
    pronto, which to my surprise means “soon”, since as a borrowed word in English it means “straight away”
    “To procrastinate is human, to forget is divine”

  3. Those internal lists of tasks we all keep in our head really do eat up our ability to be euphoric. Interesting notions about the present. Deep thoughts, Holistic! For some reason puts me in mind of the Butterfly and the Diving Bell.

    • Goodness me. That’s horrible the drs sewed up the eye. Makes me dig my heels in deeper against the medical system. The eye sits right along the meridian that leads to the liver. You damage the liver by disabling the eye. I’ve been doing some interesting, simple Fendelkrais moves (can Google). There is a lot of science, based on the position and axis of the eyes in relation to the brain, that backs up how we shut down our thoughts when our eyes roll up. Which is why people who pass out show us the whites of their eyes. I hated the feeling of it but it really works as a sleep facilitator! It’s knocked me out after a few rolls. (All to say there is a whole eye to brain network those drs messed with in that story.)

  4. Nice post. It is natural for humans to put things off. But waiting until the last minute and expecting great results is not always in the cards. I was going to say a few more things, but I think I will tell you tomorrow…….lol

      • You know, I didn’t even think of that. It’s funny because an hour earlier I had a conversation with my daughter about time & procrastination. I guess it stuck in my head.

      • Another reader brought it up in the same breath. =) You made me wonder which part of our brain is responsible for procrastination. It’s a right-brain behavior but you do have to think about the time (future) (and probably come up with excuses to put it off, that is analyze a bit). Ha ha ha.

      • LOL I am a craxy Chimp. Let me leave a comment more in line with your post. I enjoyed reading the whole right side left side of the brain. I’m so creative which I know is one side, but I am a wizard with math which is the other. So either I am a genius or outright crazy. (I’m betting on the latter). Have a great weekend.

  5. Easily the most insightful post of the day. Thank you for sharing! I used to be more left brain. Now I’m more right. I’ve traded do do do for the moment because I’ve found I can get more done in zen.

      • It is just the way information flows. Before I was focused on the details into the bigger picture and getting it all right. That took a lot of buildup before everything fell into place, if it ever did.
        Now I just focus on my inner direction and it seems like I keep arriving at that wanted destination over and over again without much effort. It feels more like projecting outcomes into being instead of really working at it. Added benefit… I can really enjoy each moment.

  6. I found your post absolutely fascinating. My mother had two failed brain operations last year which sadly left her permanently damaged and changed. The brain’s so complex, even the specialists can’t tell us much of what we’d like to know.

    • Wow. So sorry about your mother, M. It took Jill Taylor 8 yrs to regain speech, thought, and mobility. She was motivated to even after kissing this life goodbye for and by the gospel of her experience. And yes, we certainly have yet to plumb the depths of Science (esp if two operations under qualified surgeons left your mother like that). Thanks for sharing.

      • No probs. Jill Taylor sounds like an amazing woman. As is my mum, but unfortunately, at 87, she’ll never revert to anywhere near how she was.

      • We have, Diana, there’s no doubt about it. It’s been a year (in 2 weeks time) since she went in for that operation. Before that she was fit, independant and going to the gym! How quickly life can change.

      • That’s okay Diana. It’s been a long year and hard journey but we’re all slowly accepting how things are now. There’s no point fighting what is. All we can do is be there with her now. Thank you for your kind thoughts. xx

  7. The present is a psychological illusion…Wow!!

    So if his wife was stuck in a burning house what would he try to do or say?

    “Don’t worry honey the fire is just an illusion. You’ll be fine.”

    • Ha ha ha ha. You sound just like my uncomplicated matter-of-fact husband would in that scenario (as well as what my gifted students woulda thrown at me in the public schools way back.) A very good question, V. Well…that would be the future (dead wife) rushing up to meet us along the shore of time and we would be hurrying to make it a (happy) past event.

  8. I watched Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk. It was fascinating. What moved me most was her scientific curiosity for what was happening at a very personal level for her. Reading your post I was impressed by a similar trait: a need to understand what is happening to you, to make sense of it and yourself. I applaud that.

    • Thanks for the good word, Robyn. I really enjoyed those parts of her story, too. The excerpt was so long as is I had to clip some of them. “But I’m too busy to be having a stroke!” And then that unstoppable left brain of hers eager to understand itself even as it was dying. I actually hadn’t made the connection (between me and her, perhaps why I took to her) but that’ll probably be me on my deathbed, trying insistently to be able to wrap my brain around it and spell it out. Grin.

  9. Dan Gilbert’s idea that there is no such thing as the present is intriguing. If there’s is not present, then how can we live in the now? I like to think that the past, present and future all exist at the same moment in time.

    Maybe your husband is one of a kind. Maybe he needs to start listening a bit more 😀

    • “I like to think that the past, present and future all exist at the same moment in time.” That is a very good spin on Gilbert, though he does describe well the distinction between the past and future we sense keenly. But right, that could be a logical springboard off his claim about the present.

      “Maybe he needs to start listening a bit more” NO KIDDING!!! (He thought the opening of the post was so funny.)

  10. Reblogged this on Jean Reinhardt and commented:
    ‘The past and the future are both real. The present is a psychological illusion’ – I found this a fascinating concept. Quite a long post but very intriguing if you’re interested in how the brain works.

  11. I read this one late last night, and I wanted to respond, but my head hurt a little. Lots to ponder here, Diana. But what I was left with was this…your brain vs. hubby’s brain. We can all relate. It reminds me of stand-up comic’s act from long ago. ( I’m paraphrasing a bit.)

    ” When you look at him longingly, and want to know what he’s thinking, what’s on his mind, don’t be surprised if he can’t come up with a worthy answer. While you might be pondering the depths of your relationship, he is most likely thinking about his golf stroke, or what he wants to have for lunch. ” ☺

  12. Love the end of this post!!

    I have a very good friend who I have this conversation with regularly. We spend our minutes and hours and days fretting and worrying and stressing over everything. The past, the present, the future. How to improve this, how to make that better. Are we doing the best we can with our kids, but why must we do so much for them, isn’t it time for them to take the reins of their lives. Constantly trying to figure out the balance of things. Work, family, life. And we look at our spouses and others in our lives and see them floating through time and through life, not seeming to have much of a worry at all. And we so want to be like them, but how can that be. If we don’t worry about all of these things and try to fix them and address them and protect against the great and evil of “harm” … who will?

    When you figure out your husband’s brain, can you send me the instructions?

    • Laughing. Seems there is a great (or desperate) circle of wisdom going here, as I’m stealing thoughts from readers I want to ingrain in this brain. So I get that you and I are cut from the same (worn, as in worn out!) cloth, worrying and staying up for two people so our spouses can float along on the wheels of their right brain and sleep at night. Well, that’s great you have a fellow worrywart for pow-wow sessions! That’s therapy right there. In The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life, Nakazawa cites research that shows that our parasympathetic nervous system benefits markedly when we actually name our feelings (fear, grief) as opposed to just feeling them. That’s a whole post right here.
      All I can say is it’s comforting to know you’re trudging alongside. =)

      • Oh, I totally believe in the ability to vent and commiserate with like-minded people. And, unlike all those years ago, when I feared the question “what are you thinking” I don’t have any issue with naming my feelings and speaking about them to anybody who wants to listen. 😉

  13. Wow … Intriguing … Concepts of all sorts.. Just waiting to be broken down so one can be free…
    The part about the presents not existing is particularly fascinating to me..

  14. Oh, my! “Bartleby the Scribner” in person. Bartleby made Nirvana in his lifetime–just barely.

    One more observation: you must be VERY right handed if you are so left-brained. Me? Not so much. I am ambidextrous and find myself being both right and left brained at times.


  15. Nice.

    And you D, have given inescapable reasons WHY there is a Creator above all, who knows all about the circuitry of the male/female brain, and of course the perennial (or daily) mis-fires……….

    yep, maybe there’s a wink in that ‘he that sitteth the heavens shall laugh.’ 😉

  16. Interesting post HW. Maybe it’s in her book but I watched Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk and listened to her interview on NPR, and could not find any specific advice about how we forget who we are and just concentrate on the here and now. You can learn to empty your mind with meditation but deep down you still know you have an identity that you eventually have to return to.

    When Jill Bolte described her feeling of euphoria resulting from damage to her left hemisphere I did see a similarity to the sense of “flow” described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”. Csikszentmihalyi does spell out how to go about experiencing this sense of euphoria, at least in general terms. In his own words:

    “Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments of our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times … The best moments of our lives usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to the limits in a voluntary moment to achieve something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen … For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.”

    • “You can learn to empty your mind with meditation but”
      I have trouble believing MG could empty his prodigious mind, for all his will and purpose. =)

      I sure hope she explains in printed detail just how she steps into that sensory consciousness, given she took the time and energy to put out her gospel in book form and length. I suspected that spirituality was new to her; hence the profound effect the world of the right brain upon her. Her retelling of her experience was most interesting.

      The quote you leave us reinforces all I’ve written on the necessity of resistance for growth. Off topic: I thoroughly enjoyed my first Fendelkrais session this week. =) Simple, profound, gentle insights from the practitioner and movements left me drowsy and then energized.

  17. The present is just an illusion, it took me a bit to grasp and agree with this ~ it is the past and future which we have defined in our minds. Part of the fun of life are capturing those moments when time (and the present) is allowed to flow and soon there is no such thing as the past or future, we are simply somewhere, as you say, in the marrow of the moment. Love this post D., and wishing you well.

    • I found his logic compelling, although that conclusion was a bit jarring. Depends on perspective (which is a bit unsettling. Is TIME not some solid, dependable??). I could see his angle, that we are on a moving escalator.

      “time (and the present) is allowed to flow and soon there is no such thing as the past or future, we are simply somewhere, as you say, in the marrow of the moment.” Seems men have an easier TiMe with this. ^ ^

      • There are an amazing set of theories out there, and neuroscience (along with physics) tend to believe that our minds can only handle a fraction of reality (where time is solid, linear and dependable) but where real “reality” are series of dimensions, space and time 🙂 And men had an easier time with daydreaming about this…but we are just as confused if not more 🙂 Our brains have a lot more evolving to do, but it is our destiny to get there.

  18. Another reminder that men and women have brains that function for different purposes. Men are single focus. Get the thing done and move on to the next challenge. Women have multifunctional brains and that’s a must when a woman has to do a hundred things at once, specially when little people are involved and need supervision while dealing with a host of other inputs. lol Check out YouTube and type in “brains-the nothing box” for a good laugh.

  19. As always, a lot of food for thought… perfect for a Sunday 😉 I also cannot really imagine how it is to exist without the inner chatter… maybe when I am doing yoga the chatter silences a bit, but not always and not entirely. – You mention multitasking: I read an article some time ago that claims that multitasking is a) really impossible, as you do not do two things at the same time (although it feels like it), but rather your brain switches back and forth between them really quickly, which is b) really tiring and not so good for you at all. Funny, I always thought multitasking was great. 😉 But the article claims that if we concentrate on one task only we are more efficient in the end. Except for things you really do on autopilot without using brain capacity – the article uses laundry folding as example… ha! They do not know how much brain capacity it takes to sort out all those socks!!! 😉

    • So interesting! I’ve not read much on multitasking so that was enlightening. And yes, I had to hand you guys a treatise for the wknd. Keep that brain sharp, as we’re tired from the multitasking and the socks. =)

  20. My comment “flew” away again. It doesn’t matter anyhow, probably was not intelligent enough to read. Diana you are blessed with both spheres functioning at full speed ahead or at least in my opinion. This was a nice post and folks should have increased knowledge of some in-depth information and some intriguing ideas and perspectives of how the brain works.

    I am thankful that at my age, I still have most of my marbles rolling around- I think.

    • Your marbles have seemed spit-shiny and intact, Yvonne. Thank you for the gracious word as usual – but at least you have the excuse of age, the occasions your thoughts take wing. Thank you so much for your TiMe on this one. You didn’t have to stick with it, especially with the things on your plate. I hope Danny has made great progress…?

      • Thanks Diana and thank you for asking about Danny. He continues to do very well. The only apparent defict that I can see at this point is his inability to form his words to be clearly understood. I understand him and so do most people but he has a speech problem and will begin a new round of speech therapy tomorrow (Monday).

      • Well, I’m glad he’s apparently come a long way, my friend. You two have been through the mill. We can make great headway with a knowledgeable, compassionate guide.

  21. What a wonderfully thoughtful post Diana on a subject that’s fascinated me ever since I read Eckart Tolle’s, Power of Now book 10 years ago. People view me as more left brained, as “the logical one”, but if they could spend a day inside my head and listen to the neurological chatter that goes on my sanity would certainly be questioned.

    It was so interesting to read the experience of that stroke survivor, it really made me contemplate just how much our moods reflect our reality and how much we ourselves contribute to our own angst or happiness. I think you are right though about the two hemispheres being needed for equilibrium.

    Just yesterday I had a very slight confrontation with a grocery store checker who I had asked to separate out the heavy stuff in to separate bags. He very much took it the wrong way and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Was it my tone? Could I have stated things differently? Or was he just high? On it went, blah, blah, blah…..for several hours afterwards. What a waste of time and negative energy. A man would not have given any thought at all to something like this, which may not also be be ideal. A mutual combination of left and right side thinking would have been most beneficial I think.

    • You do seem very left-brained. But factor in the female hormones and moods!

      “contemplate just how much our moods reflect our reality and how much we ourselves contribute to our own angst or happiness.” I really like this. It was terribly frightening, what J Taylor went through, but one glaring fact is that she entered Nirvana involuntarily. So short of having a stroke, exactly how we follow suit remains unclear — unless, as M Greenhill gave her the benefit of the doubt on this thread, she explains it in her book. I was going to say you shouldn’t have thought too deeply about the clerk. But perhaps it depends on whether you did so out of emotional retroangst or to understand the exchange and how you could’ve done things better (as bookmark for the future). BUT then again..HOW do you sift the emotions from the incident?? Besides, it wasn’t all you (for you to own up to). Who knows what kind of day he may have had, or the patterns of criticism he may have grown up under.


      • Yes, those darn moody hormones! 😉 And you’re right, I shouldn’t have thought too much about the incident and so many unknown factors could have been at play. It’s so instantaneous for me though and nearly impossible not to think about all the why’s and what ifs.

        I may have to pick up her book. Whether it offers helpful advice or not, it’s still a fascinating subject. Thanks for pointing us in her direction.

  22. Thought-provoking Diana – I have a copy of Jill’s book but haven’t yet read it, though I’ve heard her speaking about it. Interesting about the present not existing – usually we’re told that the present moment is all we actually have, which is why we shouldn’t spend so much time worrying about past or future, but yes, each word I type is already the past and reading it will be your future 🙂

    • “each word I type is already the past and reading it will be your future” Ha ha. Right. (Pun intended.) I’d be interested to know if Jill explains just how we can access life in the right brain more fully in her book, as M Greenhill wondered. Let me know if you ever get there (I meant the book, but Nirvana, too). LOL!!

  23. I read Taylor’s book – her ability to put into words the life threatening experience amazes me.

    And your reference to the list of tasks, my daughter was asking me just this morning the odd look on my face and the far away look – I explained to her that I’ve spent the last two days focusing hard on my long ” To Do” list and it’s left me in an odd fugue state that felt unpleasant. That list in my head, it’s always there. Sleep, for me, is sometimes the only escape.

    • That’s cool that you read it. Does she actually spell out just HOW we can step into and claim our right brain to live as she urges? As to the LiSt, I’ve been waking unrested. My dreams have been intense, full of thought!! I need to escape…myself.

      • I don’t recall specific comments about utilizing the right brain more, but I’ve read miscellaneous stuff about switching handedness, changing driving patterns, introducing new scents and tastes to “enhance” brain pathways…eh, did some of it – just ended up finding more fast food places taking different roads home from work , ha!

  24. Excellent material and stuck over in my ‘to muse upon’ corner along with things like “the eye takes a few pixels and the brain fills in the rest” if the thing viewed is familiar, or sometimes makes new things resemble familiar things if the brain is busy doing other things.

    I think my brain needs a vacation. I wonder where it would take my body? LOL!

    Well writ as always 🙂

    • That just goes to show how the brain wants a footing on familiar ground. We want to tie the new (info) around something we know already. You do sound like u need a vaca (prolly both) he he he. I sure as hec need one. Thx for the props.

  25. I loved Jill Bolte Taylor’s book. I asked my husband if I ever have a stroke, to please read that book so he would know how to respond to me. That is assuming we all stroke in similar ways, we might not. I also love Dan Gilbert’s observation that there is no present, only past and future. That makes so much sense to me, given my penchant for drifting into reverie, then snapping out of it to deal with whatever reality requires of me. The back and forth is always a battle for me. Thought provoking piece Diana, thank you.

    • So neat. Many here on this thread have her book and Susan just said she read it. That IS neat, to make it alive and intact after such a fatal experience (that she kissed her life goodbye) and to be able not only to retell it but examine it for us to be able to connect with stroke victims. I actually took to Dan’s observation. That’s a provocative claim he made about the present. I appreciate your TiMe. =)

  26. Heavy stuff in this post! I prefer the boxes in the brain theory targeting the male brain! Think of one thing at a time then close the box. There’s that empty one for nothing! However to write well stay in the middle of the road between the right & left brain. That’s the creative thinking part! Have a happy week! 💛 Elizabeth

  27. Hey, D. Your husband may in fact live longer than you, but nothings to say your choice of expression won’t even that playing field a bit. I may be able to let go of the past a little easier than you, but I fear, based on your previous writings, you grasp the present in a way I haven’t been able to yet. I need time. There’s a calmness to the writing which eases my thought process and allows me to be okay with how I view my reality. My reality. Ha. Sure.

  28. Wonderful piece. Although, I feel like you are describing the female brain, not just yours? Taylor’s Ted Talk is one of my favorites. I cry every time I watch it. Have you ever thought of checking your husband’s neck for that red mark that indicates he’s and alien abductee? Just sayin’…

  29. Since I only knew you from Thurs. doors, I didn’t know this side of you:)
    I don’t think you can see the brain from any other side than holistically. In my last year of training I learned much from neuropsychology and working in the hospital with MRI’s and interpreting brain scans. Thank you for visiting my blog today (Mon. 3:30 now-here -so you must be off to bed).When you put a “like” on my blog, my link for SEASONS was not on, but now it is, so am inviting you to leave me any recent thumbnail pic before Wed. 7pm US, Pacific time. – Thank you, and hope to see you there:) A happy week to you!

    • Well that’s what was so fascinating for Jill Taylor, to be able to experience herself dissected. =) Bc she had been accustomed to working with the brain as you do. Thanks for connecting. =) (Pun intended).

  30. I think there is more to be said on the topic of multi-tasking. My eldest daughter, who is an engineer, often found that she could better concentrate in class while knitting. I’m not sure how that would fit in the left brain/right brain scenario, but it seems that sometimes we do better when we do two things at once. Of course, it all depends, one what those things are!

  31. What an experience Ms. Taylor endured! So interesting to hear her story.
    I love your take on time management: ” . . . I can let go the frustration that the sun sets too soon on my hopes for that day.” Wise words to live by for any busy woman. Lovely!

  32. I don’t know the brain is strange. As you know another cyclist crashed into me when I was biking. I did have a concussion which took several months to recover for me..so I was no longer dizzy.

    I have no memory of being struck, no memory of other cyclists, of other pedestrians helping me, of being transported by ambulance, of being wheeled into the CRT machine for imaging at the hospital. It was like the movies: I woke up in pain in a hospital emergency services where my partner was asking questions, testing my memory.

    My partner said that after the crash, I did get up but I kept asking certain questions over and over. He wasn’t sure about me… I have NO MEMORY of this.

    I lost my in the moment, short -term memory for a few hrs. of my life.

    I am glad I have no memory of the actual crash. Therefore no memory trauma script running through my head.

    Your brain….controls every single movement your body makes, everyting that you see, hear right at this very moment. It controls automatic bodily processes too.

    Let’s treasure our brains.

    • You could give your own TED Talk! What a close call, Jean. You seriously missed drama by a hairsbreadth, and what you recovered from was drama plenty. How scared he must’ve been, not knowing the extent of your cognitive injuries.

      • I think he realized later when I was in the hospital just how affected I was. The neurologists explained abit to him. I got fuller information from my emergency medicine doctor -sister. She sees concussion patients.

        During first few 2 months of recovery, I could not be in front of computer screens ..exhausting and dizzying..scrolling up and down screens, etc. One’s sleep pattern also gets disrupted.

  33. Really enjoyed reading this post. I found it really interesting. As a creative person I am happiest when I am in the right side of my brain. When I paint, draw or create I tune out and go into a silence where I am truly focused on the present and what I am doing. I find most people walk around obvious to their own potential and try to pull you into their left side thinking, which does have its place but isn’t for me! 🙂

    • That is neat that you enjoy such self-awareness. I think many people dull this essential sixth sense with all the noise and lights from their screen. I love the connection you make between art and the present. Glad you enjoyed. Appreciate your TiMe. 😉


  34. A thought provoking post, Diana.
    To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton: “If not for a God…the two sides of the human mind could never have touched at all; and the brain of man would have remained cloven and double; one lobe of dreaming impossible dreams and the other repeating invariable calculations. The picture-makers would have remained forever painting the portrait of nobody. The sages would have remained forever adding up numbers that came to nothing. It was that abyss (as the line between your sea and sand) that nothing but the incarnation could cover; a divine embodiment of our dreams. (“The Everlasting Man”)

    This is possible for those who see themselves in this world and not of it.


  35. Fantastic breakdown on the male brain – courtesy of your husband, lol Diana. But just maybe the fact that men are multi lackers or shall I say, focus on one thing at a time, this is the key to their sanity and why they sleep so much better than us at night. The other brain story is fascinating. When you unknowingly lose that part of your brain that is central command, leaving you weightless with what you don’t realize is missing, it can become a sense of nirvana. Thanks for the share. 🙂

    • LUV the multilacking. LOL. And yes, of course that is why they sleep at night. He’s kind of a living example of Dr. Taylor the stroke victim…no insult intended. More funny than anything. At least he caught the humor in the opening of the post. =)

  36. My cure for the time conundrum, and consciousness, and busy mind, is to ski. It clears out my thoughts. I start a ski excursion thinking — there’s really no time for this — but after a few runs, time expands. The to-do list that seemed overwhelming, shrinks to a manageable size. It must be a right-brain connection, deep concentration on one activity, that requires ever-changing responses.

  37. Much food for thought here. Interesting to think that so much of what we experience is all in our heads, in a matter of speaking. I’m fascinated by the idea of how were the left hemisphere to shut off, all of what is there would disappear and cease to exist. As a writer, that would be devastating. It’s amazing how a shift in perception or mindset can change everything even though nothing outside of that may have changed. Loved Still Alice- the book and the movie, btw. The author’s other books are pretty great too.

    • I know, right? Erase that left brain and erase everything: names, dates, fears, plans, your history…and future! That’s what’s so interesting about Dr. Taylor and her story. That it didn’t devastate her in the way you and I feel it would us, as difficult as the eight-yr climb out of the left black hole was. I suspected she hadn’t known much spirituality for her to have embraced the White Light as she did. Was the bk Still Alice much different from the film? J Moore was fabulous in the role. Touching, sobering script and acting (though I wasn’t keen on the acting of the older daughter).

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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