Wednesday, February 25, 2004
"Stairway," by Edward Hopper, 1949
If you were to walk out the door right now, what would you find? Would the door lead to the car that would whisk you away to work or an errand or the grocery store, or would the endless choices cause you to fall to the floor, incapacitated by silly laughter and sheer delirium at the prospects?
To me, it's amazing all the possibilities that are faced when presented with a door, a library or some such thing. The choices can be overwhelming or enlivening, depending on the level of energy or hope the individual faced with the choices is possessed of at the time.
I have heard that the human brain is never so filled with possibilities and potential as when a baby is born, and that the huge amount of pathways and synapses in the brain gets whittled down little by little as the child learns his world and surroundings. Each circumstance and choice the baby makes as he or she becomes a small child creates a new established course, strengthening those used as other connections in the brain start shutting down.
This process creates the personality and the intelligence of the individual, opening so many doors and libraries to that person's life, but it also suppresses many other ways and options. Though the process of hardwiring a brain are necessary, there is a downside.
As I think of all the things I could be doing right now, my mind races. I am here in my classroom, not eating lunch, listening to my students ask me questions. I am writing all this down in an electronic web-log. I am a teacher, supporting my family through my labours here.
I am not surfing, hiking, digging ditches, making love, driving, fixing my roof, dressing, making a sandwich, planting trees, flying, rebuilding a carburetor, painting, washing dishes, or any number of things that my mind can access as a possibility right this minute. There are countless things that I have never even heard of that I could be doing, but I can't conceptualize them because I have no frame to reference them.
Thus, they are not possibilities for me right now, because I am fixed in my life ways and references. Those ways keep me able to survive in our social structure, to contribute and be supported by the structure around me.
Some of the possibilities that could be engaged in might be counter to the morals of my society, they might even be against the law. The hardwire structure and chemically-etched habits of my personality keep me from such decisions; in fact, because of that structure I never have to make many of those decisions because they never present themselves.
I rarely consider wearing my shoes on my head, I almost never think of chopping my hand with a steel bar in the midst of in-service meetings, and I don't think I've ever thought of, um, just a minute... shaving half of my head, singing the Marseillaise for the rest of my life non-stop and eating nothing but orange construction paper and Enfamil.
Anyway. The point is that we are creatures of habit. I am afraid that I am especially susceptible to bland habit right now. I hope my blog doesn't drive too many dear readers away through sheer tedium!
And yes, my head sort of hurts after all that, too. My sincerest apologies.