Friday, October 19, 2012

Never Let Your Left-Brain Know What Your Right-Brain is Doing

"The Dalai Lama always likes to say that when you give birth in your mind to the idea of compassion, you realize that you yourself and your pains and your pleasures are finally too small a theater for your intelligence."- Robert Thurman
Have you ever heard such a balls-to-the-wall, in-your-face call for transcendence? At some point, the demands of the left-brain to build monuments and solve puzzles and hail the ego as a supreme individual spills over into the right hemisphere's hippy tambourine-shaking improv-scene and general acceptance of boundlessness. If "compassion" is what it means to be human, it's because the beasts don't have the intelligence to foster their own survival with enough time at the end of the day to mimic the divine through feats of creation.

It seems that creation and suffering are at opposite ends of a see-saw; one can boldly hypothesize that any act of creation yields a degree--however varying--of diminished suffering. Even the atomic bomb--the creation, not implementation of which--yielded an array of scientific illuminations and ethical gymnasia in which we still exercise to this day. Its utilization was obviously an act of creation's opposite. [Although one need not refer a hospice nurse too deep into the eastern scriptures for a reminder that destruction can be a form of creation, especially when suffering is diminished. In this instance, a nurse who agrees to push extra morphine to a hopelessly suffering patient is not unlike the sculpteur who adds beauty to her work by removing a chunk of clay to create the negative space necessary for definition.]

At some point, the common creative drives--career, relationships, hobbies etc.--become somewhat mechanical in their weekly activations, achievable by the same automatons which put tax-payers out of work in the factories. This is not to say that the average fantasy football owner or social networker is truly realizing his full personal potential. But rerouting these efforts and attention towards other people renders a great definition of what it means to be "above average". The point at which a communal aim becomes a personal aim is the point at which a kid becomes an adult; the self is sustaining and it goes on to sustain others like franchise acquisition.

This is the true definition of excellent: to excel.

[For the record, this author has, to this day, not contributed "jack" to the world other than perfunctory community services and monetarily negligible donations to charity. But I'm excited to change this simmediately.]

A funny thing about childhood and adulthood... The ideal human seems to incorporate elements of both, but I find the wrong elements are popularly championed. An example from life... I was dining with several loved ones, and in the midst of hearty laughter, the waitress took away my cousin's mostly-but-not-completely eaten dish of spaghetti and meatballs. He noticed too late and told the waitress what she had done. The waitress apologized, stated that she heard indication he was finished, and immediately offered to bring some more spaghetti and meatballs. My buddy said that he didn't want more meatballs but rather for the waitress to be more careful next time. The waitress insisted that it was no trouble at all and that she had heard someone say he was done, and proceeded to order up more meatballs. This verbal exchange repeated several times, and it resembled a less vulgar version of the display you've seen a thousand times in traffic: "One's self is right, the other person is wrong and needs a lecture." This is really the only position that exist in any type of civil altercation, with the slight nuance that someone in a "costumer service position" needs to placate the customer like a child throwing a tantrum (as this waitress did). Everybody wants to look like the adult, nobody wants to look like a child. Nobody wants the APPEARANCE of incompetence.

Remember how I told you in brackets that the author was no more excellent than the reader due to his general lack of philanthropy? This was true, but it was also a strategic message required because we have an unfortunate bias against the sensation of being preached to. Nobody over the age of ten wants to be lectured ethically or told anything from the perceived position of "being looked down upon". I even see it in pop-culture criticism. Certain works of art are actually criticized for "preachiness" while countless LPs expressing alienation and self-doubt receive unanimous acclaim. In fact--especially when it comes to rock music--the more confidence found in the attitude, the less "good" the music is reputed to be.

Why is this? Simple. Because our left-brain doesn't like the idea that people think they're better than me. "Don't treat me like a baby" is a very common sentiment, and it seems to flourish the less mature a person gets--culminating in near-universality in the ten year-old population (with the noted exceptions of particularly mature ten year-olds). So which traits do we want to retain from childhood in lieu of "I don't want to be told what to do"? Pop-culture will tell you that laughter, lightheartedness and carefree attitude are the quintessential child-like traits we should recapture. But this is only a mostly-thorough list. To make it entirely thorough we have to extrapolate "carefree" into "I don't care if I fuck up because I have no self-awareness because there are no right or wrong answers". Well, this is certainly a right-brain philosophy, and of course the left-brain knows there ARE right and wrong answers. But what the left brain calls "right and wrong" are merely degrees of effectiveness for a problem-solving ethic stating "the most effective result in the shortest time is the right answer". Where we run into trouble is when humans get judged by their left-brain intelligence, immediately leading to a disdain for experimentation, a disdain for wrong answers, a disdain for being wrong and--most troubling--a disdain for LOOKING wrong. We identify the sensation we feel when someone looks like an idiot and we would never want that judgement cast on us. So we focus all our resources inwardly, except those which gain us favorable judgement, such as running a 5k for charity. There's nothing wrong with running, but RUNNING HAS NEVER CURED ANYTHING. [With the possible exception of auto-obesity or mountain-lion attack.]

Still, the growing trend of running for charity is important momentum in the right direction because it taps into the essence of Robert Thurman's quote from the Dalai Lama. People are discovering that running just to get and keep in shape is entirely too easy and doesn't even begin to exploit the circulative potential for societal impact. Niagara Falls is always gonna churn, might as well AT THE VERY LEAST power a nearby city with the fuckin' thing.

So, is the left brain wrong for its heavy ego? No, because the right brain knows there ARE no rights or wrongs. But the disagreeing ego is what drives us to actually do stuff; if we were all entirely right-brained and didn't care about keeping up with the jonses, we wouldn't even get out of bed, we would just roll around grinning all day. [Try to recall if you've ever seen someone on ecstasy--that's basically a walking, talking right-brain. (Yikes!)] Our left-brain offers us a very human desire to become phenomenal. This is more utilitarian than our right-brain's philosophy that "we already are phenomenal". And while we shouldn't let it stifle creativity by making us skittish of mistakes, we ought to plug the left-brain "power generator" into the right-brain "grid".

Here's setting to work, for the first time in my life, at age 29.

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