Writing is existential. Sometimes, it feels like when I’m writing, my two hemispheres are at last able to have an intimate discussion with one another. This experience helps get me out of Freeze Loop, this concept I’ve been researching more…
Jill Bolte Taylor also talks about her experiences with her hemispheres in her TED Talk, “My Stroke of Insight,” which I regularly show in my composition classes when I’m teaching students about how to use personal anecdotes to drive meaningful conversations…
(I love how, @2:35, when the brain comes out, a dude shouts Yes!)
So if you want the learning experience after watching the video (of course you do!), on a sheet of paper, hand-write a half-page answer to the question, “What do you know about the human brain?—and what would you like to learn about the brain?”
Use any knowledge you remember from the video and/or stuff you knew before.
Did you complete the half-page handwritten prompt?
If you did, congratulations—you’ve got yourself a research project!
Now Google the question(s) you came up with, and learn more about your body’s most complex organ—an organ with 10^11 billion neurons, and 10K as many synapses.
Is it fun to learn about your brain?
It is for me.
Writing should be fun.
It’s authentic. Part of why I think writing is my primary discourse is because it’s the only form of communication that 👥makes me feel👥 this way.
Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m feeling until I write it down. Emotions and writing are tied together at an integral level, like roommates in a sardine-canned dorm room. I think that’s part of why I’m fascinated by the craft of emotional writing, like what’s talked about in Maass’s book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, the life-long writing studies I’m digesting right now…
It’s safe. When I talk, there is a part of me that is always along for the ride, 👁 watching from a distance, thinking, 👁 This is not what I would have chosen to do—and I 😭 don’t like 😭 when I get that knotted up feeling, like my actions are impacted by bullies, trauma, and fear, rather than careful, considerate choice.
Another book I’ve been reading, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, is supposed to help improve prefrontal cortex’s logical responses to emotionally charged stimuli.
But in writing, I feel conscious. I feel free. I’m no longer dealing with the “ongoing brain chatter that connects me from my internal world to my external world,” that “calculating intelligence,” but instead I am wholly inside my internal world—where I alone determine when and where I’ll process the stimuli I’ve been holding deep, deep in my belly—and this is how I’ve felt the happiest in life, writing liberated, without fear.
I am an energy being connected to the consciousness of my right hemisphere…as one human family, and right here, right now, we are brothers and sisters on this planet, here to make this planet a better place, and in this moment, we are perfect, we are whole, and we are beautiful. — Jill Bolte Taylor
Communication should be open. I spent my whole childhood on a script, thinking at least half of what I wanted to say couldn’t be said; when I was sexually abused, my stepdad told me to keep it a secret, (and that’s usually how it is with childhood emotional abuse, isn’t it?) and when I was gaslit, I was told my memories were wrong, so if I spoke, if I left the “inner dialogue inside my body,” I knew I’d risk even more pain;
It just became easier to retreat inward, to become irritable at anyone who tugged hard;
But then, my relationship with pain is complicated. If you’ve also had an extensive relationship with pain, Scarry’s The Body in Pain is an interesting read I heard about on a Podcast (I still pull it up sometimes on my phone with my Kindle app)…
It’s liberating. I kept too much in for too long. Even now, I’m liberating buried memories, words, feelings from synapses that must come out of the neurons in my stomach—just by writing and editing this post, considering a small audience benefiting from this “enormous and expansive, at once with all the energy at once” form of writing—I am healing myself, and this is why I encourage other people to write to heal, too.
I think more people than not can experience this liberation. For instance, William Styron talks openly, almost overwhelmingly so, in his memoir Darkness Visible…
It’s a human right. I see some people knee-jerking for the First Amendment here; but forget about the law for a moment. Human nations, empires—these rise and fall. Let’s talk about nature instead, cosmic consistency.
If consciousness was not meant to communicate, what is awareness for?
As a human being, you’re uniquely capable of writing. Your speech is a human quality, too. (…Well; we can talk about my childhood special interest in dolphin intelligence another time.) Too often we separate ourselves from the animal kingdom; but in this case, we can separate. Writing is uniquely ours. Yours. You’re equipped with this skill.
So I will write, no matter what. I’ll do what I was born to do. And I’ll enable others at the local colleges to write too, because that’s the best gift I’ll ever be able to provide to my community.
If I didn’t have writing, I’m not sure if I’d be able to escape my body. When I’m with people I love—people who are okay knowing I’m different, even if they aren’t aware how I’ll be different—then I can talk. When I’m in front of a classroom, following specific social rules, then I can talk. But I often struggle with speaking in any other place, under any other condition, so if I didn’t have writing, I’d knot up.
And a lot of the skills I’ve learned speaking, I had to practice with writing first. This is why I often teach people who struggle with writing to lean on their speaking skills. Surely the feedback loop works both directions.
I’m not the only autistic person who was able to escape their body through language and technology. In Naoki Higashida’s case, these combined forces were life changing. David Mitchell’s translation is an excellent read, if you have an evening to spare. I also love the audiobook of The Reason I Jump.
Thank you for reading the first week of Cleo’s 30-Day Autism Awareness Challenge. According the the schedule, next week will start with a near-death experience. I look forward to telling that story tomorrow. 🤗
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Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at Kourtnie.net or Wattpad.com/user/KourtnieNet.