Monday, October 5, 2009

My Life in a Nutshell: Musings

I just read this NY Times article after an unsettling evening of hanging out with some very close friends. In case you don't feel like reading it yourself, the basics of the article are that new research indicates that, when faced with anomalies, the brain reacts by searching even harder for meaningful patterns to counteract the absurd. They surmise that situations that call into question one's sanity cause nervousness and a fear or contemplation of one's own death, thus triggering a mental scramble for order.

For some reason this seems right on to me. Tonight a friend told me about two separate situations of people dying who really shouldn't... a 3 day old baby, and the mother of a different 3 day old baby. Awful, heart-wrenching tragedies that immediately made me consider myself in the same situations. What would I do if I lost a newborn? What would my family go through if I died unexpectedly after childbirth?

It seems absurd to even ponder situations so far removed from me, yet I can't help but dwell on those affected by these recent happenings. And it's making me feel like writing when earlier I had no inclination. I want to go solve problems, help people, stop horrible things from happening. I can't do much at this hour, but my mind is not at ease.

I've gone through and still manage some amount of depression in my own admittedly wonderful life, nothing I consider serious, but I know when my moods are affected beyond the ups and downs of a normal day. I have wondered sometimes if the absurd anxieties of those emotional troughs open up the mind to a greater ability in some areas, a renewal of energy seeking an outlet. I have to think of the many socially awkward artists, outcasts in their time, who've created works to ultimately define new eras of art. Like Van Gogh. Was this intensity brought about by fear?

According to the studies in the article, being faced with the bizarre often leads people to fall back on routines to re-establish a sense of order and safety. In that vein, I'm heading to bed and hoping that in the morning I'll be back to thinking about less anomalous scenarios, even if it makes me less artful in the process. Good night!

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