Sunday, October 25, 2009

The mind is a terrible thing to waste

I have a few memories that are crystal clear to me. They have been engraved in my mind since the moment they happened. This is one of them:

I am standing in front of my Elementary School alone. I'm ten and I am waiting for my mother to pick me up. It's the first big snow day of the year. It's already been snowing for several hours and there is nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Large, heavy flakes continue to slowly fall from the sky. The new whiteness of the world and the silence not only feel peaceful and tranquil but also eerie and strange.

This was an exciting day for me. The reason I was outside waiting for my mom while all the other kids were still in class was because my grandparents were coming to visit. I was so excited to see them.

The entire day I was filled with such excitement and happiness about their arrival (and about the fact that I got to miss part of school). But there was something else there too. Although I was in a very good mood, a fantastic mood really, I had this strange feeling that I could cry at any moment--that without difficulty I could form tears and cry. It was a bizarre feeling, especially since I wasn't sad (and I'm not one to cry when I am happy). Noting the feeling, I made a plan that the next day when I was supposed to go to school (while my grandparents stayed at my house) I could use this new found ability to fake being sick, allowing me to stay home and have fun with my grandparents. Just to test it I tried crying and saw that I could and that I could easily cry quite a bit. I stopped crying, hoping to save the big tears for the next day, and continued waiting.

After a while, I wondered what was taking my mother so long. She was quite late and I was anxious to get home. Finally I saw our old yellow truck pull up in front of the school. I ran and got in. Seeing my mother's red eyes and splotchy face I instantly knew something was wrong. In my childhood innocence I asked, "Are Grandma and Grandpa here yet?"

My mother burst into tears. I stared at the window-wipers whisking away the snowflakes as she told me my grandfather had died. And then I cried.

What does this have to do with UC? This was the first time I thought the human mind might be capable of more than we realize. I had the sensation to cry before knowing why. I feel like in some way I knew something bad had happened. William James wrote, "We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources," (from The Energies of Men, p. 12). If our minds are capable of knowing more than our physical realities, perhaps on a subconscious level, could we then use our conscious minds to somehow access some of that knowledge? What abilities do our minds have that are yet untapped? Can we (as so many people believe) really heal ourselves? Did my subconscious mind know my grandfather had died or was it a coincidence?

More thoughts on this in my next post.

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