Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A downside to wonder

As I read chapter 6 of Jill Bolte Taylor's "My Stroke of Insight", I cried in sympathy for her situation.  She writes in a steady clear way about experiencing a stroke, recognizing it as a stroke when her right arm became just a hanging weight attached to her.  But, she did not realize that function and ability, one after another, had stopped working.  She realized during her early morning stroke that she needed to phone for help. 

She knew where her phone was and roughly how to use it but she could not think of any phone number that would be appropriate to call.  As she recognized her card file of phone numbers, she started thinking about the marvelous instrument here in front of her, this telephone that could allow her to talk to others all over.  It was truly a miracle that such a thing could exist.

I have been fascinated at times by a little kid, say aged less than 1 year.  I see such a child reach for something and then become fascinated by his hand or an object he accidentally brushed a second ago.  It is clear that being immersed in wonder is not necessarily a good state for getting business done.  In one of his parables, the Buddha discusses the misguided man, shot in the chest with an arrow, who wants to know who did this and why, instead of accepting medical aid to treat the wound and stem the bleeding.


Dr. Taylor experienced recurring waves of clarity of who she was and what she was trying to do for herself in the midst of her stroke.  She frequently had to wait for the next wave to see what she was up to, getting lost in ecstasy or chaotic confusion between waves.  She found that only during moments of some clarity could she make out what the squiggles on the cards in her file said.  She knew that she needed to match the squiggles on the card with the squiggles on the phone keyboard but found that she easily got lost as to where she was in the sequence.  Had she just entered that squiggle or was that the next one she needed to enter? She did connect with a colleague, only to discover that she could not decipher any of the sounds he made into speech, nor could she utter intelligible words.  She could tell from the tones of his voice that he understood she needed help and would get it for her.

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