Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dendrites, Neurons, Axons, and Tightropes

In my dream last night, I found myself high above the ground, trying to make my way back home. The above-ground path I had been walking on for some time was made up of a comfortable network of interlocking bridges and tree branches with plenty of handholds and nothing to fear. However, just before I woke up panting, I realized I had taken a wrong turn off the comfortable network, and what lay before me was a very narrow, tightrope-like structure. The only option, it seemed, was to go forward. Not to get too technical about it, but as I reflect on it, I think it looked kind of like a neuron--a brain cell--with the axon as the pathway ahead.
See what I mean? This seems apt because although I have had a reasonably clear focus on this blog over the past year or so, last week I mentioned that I am not sure whether or how that particular path will continue. The thing about neurons, is that they exist in a dense network of connections, and once the brain-message gets across that narrow axon, it connects up with the network and can go in multiple directions. (again, excuse the lack of technical lingo and expertise re: neuroscience.)
Anyway, my sister, who is serious about psychoanalysis, told me that the reason a psychoanalytic patient sees the analyst at least four times a week is that so much happens in the human mind and soul in any one day that if you only go once a week, you simply miss too much. I have been thinking about this, as I blog only once a week, and every week, I think about or hear or read about a hundred things I could write about that are relevant to my blog topic--the discomforts of diversity. The world is so full of these things--ethnic clashes all over the world, recent events on the subject of race in the U.S., debates in my own local community regarding building low-cost housing or even the mention of LGBT issues in the elementary school.
     This week, in Newsweek, which we get because we donate to our local public radio station, there was an article about Al Sharpton, a person I have always found fascinating and have actually admired. The year he ran for president, he gave a terrific speech at the Democratic Convention. I thought about writing about him. Also, in this issue of Newsweek was some follow-up on the Shirley Sherrod events, a multifaceted story to stimulate multiple brain pathways. I've considered saying something about her. You see how everything leads to so many possible places? I guess the other thing I could say about that tightrope/axon situation I found myself in last night is that one of the subplots of my new novel has to do with the circus, and in particular a circus acrobat. And when one is working on a novel, or any major writing or creative project, one is certainly facing a heart-pumping tightrope of a walk in practically every sense of the word.


Jim Poznak said...

Too bad we don't realize how closely connected we all are, like the neurons that make our brains work.

Susan Messer said...

all of us in an interdependent network--something I wrote about a few weeks back re: interests (a complete lunch).