Fascinatingly, I have little left to say today but much to express. I’d like to tell you that I’m 33,000 words into my fiction manuscript (Henri!), which is where I have focused my writing energies this year. I want to tell you I’m writing a cookbook with my mother, Claire; a Paper Castle Cookbook! I can hardly believe I didn’t think of it earlier. I’m also making you a series of books, containing nearly every Big Long Open Gash post I’ve ever written. I am co-authoring a non-fiction book with two women on the shadow side of Beauty. I am preparing to make a baby (!) I am enjoying every day of my life. How blessed life can be. When time can slow in our hands and when all of our fears and angers subside, there is such peace possible.
I’ve been studying the brain lately, its neuro-plasticity, the way we can rewire ourselves towards and away from connections, whether they be old or new. I have been witnessing the surfacing of powerful memories through this process of understanding the brain, particularly how we remember things. One day whilst driving into New York City with ‘Harriet the Chariot’ (a.k.a the Saab), I happened to find myself listening to a program on NPR about the way we remember; how our memories are literally ‘re-membered’ afresh, that is, put back together, every time we ‘re-member’ them. I have come to understand and employ the truth in life that the past is not a kingdom to get to, and neither is the future. It is not a ‘place’ we can find. It exists solely in our remembering of it, our fantasizing about it: which happens – NOW. In other words, the past and the future exist only in the now as thoughts or memories, that is, solely as brain patterns firing, NOW.
Why is that important? First of all, know that everything that you have ever seen, heard, felt, done, expressed, understood, witnessed, tasted and touched, is stored in your brain in the form of both action memory patterns and perception memory patterns. EVERYTHING. The connections in your brain are vast – vaster than any scientist can estimate. One way of thinking about it, according to science, is that we have more possible connections in our brain than there are molecules in the universe. That is a lot. Somewhere in there, we have stored EVERYTHING that has ever occurred to us.
When we realize that our greatest fears and our greatest hopes are directly relative to the experiences, sensations, feelings, actions and emotions that have happened before, an incredible freedom becomes possible. For years, I believed that I was just ‘my father’s daughter’; someone who was easily moved, sensitive, all-feeling. In a nutshell, emotional. In many instances, those emotions knocked me sideways, and I could never quite understand why I was having such strong reactions to situations or experiences. After understanding the nature of the brain, and the nature of how we remember (that is, newly, and in the now), it became clear that the emotions I was having now were simply brain patterns that had been laid down in the past, at some point in my earlier life, and which were expressing themselves now.
“The safest memories are in the brains of people who can’t remember.” (quote from the recent NPR program Can We Learn To Forget Our Memories?)
When I face my deepest fear, it becomes obvious how connected the emotion and feeling of fear is to a previous experience I had had. I then realize that I have already survived that fear, that my deepest fear has already happened. For the record, my greatest fear is being ‘left alone’. What happened? I remember being two years old, and my mother going out for the night. She had dropped me off at my Nanna’s house; a woman who had grown up on a farm in the wheat belt of Western Australia, and who was very conscious of energy, water, any ‘wastage’ at all. I remember the being surrounded by gray, it must have been dusk, and there were no lights on at all. Nanna left the room after I’d thrown a tantrum at my mothers ankles. I watched the car leave, and remember having the thought, an entirely new one at the time – “What if she doesn’t come back??”
My survival was intrinsically connected to her. Knowing how fertile the minds of young children are up to the age of three (those baby documentaries come in handy!) I now see how my brain created a firm pattern for surviving her absence. I turned inward, and said to myself and others, “I’m not going to get close to you.” It’s no surprise that I became independently focused, that my imagination grew exponentially, that I began writing stories (alone), and reading (alone) and later in life, compensating for that threat of being ‘alone’ by surrounding myself with as many friends as possible, and marrying a touring musician. No wonder I was getting so burnt out from the constant socializing, and finding myself alone again in the burn out!
Seeing all of this, I realize that I do not have to fear being alone anymore as I’ve already been alone countless times, and I have survived with my Self intact. I am alive! Of course, my mother did come home, and I’m sure the next morning I’d forgotten all about it. The intensity of the experience in that moment however, left it’s indelible mark on my rapidly forming brain. Unbeknownst to me, I would continue to live out that fear again, and again, and again, until I went back to rewire that primary pattern.
Thankfully, I did that last weekend.
These insights are so important for all of us to have. Ask yourself why you feel a certain way, and study the way the brain works (a great introductory book is Your Brain At Work, as well as The Brain That Changes Itself) Whenever you feel something strongly, ask yourself, what brain pattern is firing off right now in response to some stimuli, and when did it first lay down? I know the signing of my sister to IMG left a huge mark on my seventeen year old brain, being at the time an impressionable young person forming her own identity in response to the world around her. Apparently, the brains of teenagers shift to a new state of crucial development not seen since infancy – no wonder those years are fraught with emotional and psychological instability. The brain is rewiring itself again in preparation for the world out there, the next phase, the next set of challenges and circumstances.
I’m enjoying these insights. I remember someone asking me what exactly I write about on this blog, having herself followed it for some years, but not sure why! (!) I have to say that I’m still not sure myself – it’s an ever-evolving landscape, isn’t it? Personally, my blog is for Self expression, to share something with the world, to share my positive insights, and some of the darker ones, too. Most of all, I enjoy the process of evolution as a self-reflective human. I wouldn’t say I am narcissistic, but I wouldn’t say I’m oblivious to myself either. After all, I’ve been looking within for twenty five years, the great majority of my life! What am I writing about? Who knows. Why am I writing? Because I enjoy it, and I enjoy the expansion of my Self into the World.
Isn’t it important that we share what it is to be Human?
I measure myself
Against a tall tree.
I find that I am much taller,
For I reach right up to the Sun,
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the Sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way the ants crawl
In and out of my shadow.
(from Robert Bly’s The Little Book on the Human Shadow)
I would also like to tell you that I am building a sister company to the press, called Paper Castle Gatherings – a unique and intimate event curation, creation and consultation company. Truly exciting. Perhaps it’s part of the blossoming out of ‘being alone’ – without having to live in that dark, grey room anymore, I realize that I love to work with people, to collaborate, to co-create. My mission is to work intimately with individuals on creating personalized gatherings for their tribe – their own magical events, weddings, ceremonies, dinners, and memories worthy of a big long open gash.
I am very excited and of course uncertain, too. How can one not be when the brain patterns have never been laid before? At the core of it all, I see how I love to create story in everything, meaning, beauty, memory, love, friendship, connection. My goal is not to produce events, but to create gatherings. You will see a new website shortly – and a special healing retreat, too, for you to join if it calls to you. It’s time to gather together.
What else? I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with you all that is growing! So much is growing. What a garden we can create. This is my truest aim – to lead a life that inspires others. To lead a life that encourages self-reflection, self-esteem, the realization of your wildest dreams, the experience of beauty in everyday life, the phenomenon of love, the support of community, the satisfaction of a life well lived.
That is what I’m here for.
Until next time,
LIFE, MORE LIFE!