Lose Your Right Mind [on Merely A Thought Monday]

in your right mind copy

I have made some incredibly bad decisions in my life that set off a chain of events that led to some extraordinary, life-illuminating experiences. Conversely, I have made some incredibly good, well-considered decisions that led me to total devastation. My life reads like one of Aesop’s Fables.

The “bad” decisions were “irrational” and “spontaneous” and some of my pals  questioned whether or not I was in my “right” mind.

The “good” decisions were “rational” and I was lauded for using common sense, for my clear-eyed, right-minded logic.

Intuition, following your gut, listening to your heart has very little to do with the rightness of mind.

Back in the previous century (20 years ago), educators were awash in the term “the mainstream.” Getting divergent students back into the mainstream was the stated goal of most alternative education programs. Doug, my hero of the alternative path, champion of finding the stream that worked for the student (as opposed to channeling all students back into a single stream), used to snarl, “I’d love to see this mainstream if someone would be kind enough to point it out to me.” (note: this is not a direct quote as I’ve cleaned up Doug’s language for my less sturdy readers).

In mythology it is called the left-hand path, this route that makes no sense to adherents of the mainstream. The left-hand path is intuitive and counter-intuitive, all at the same time. It seems nonsensical to sail toward the edge of the known world. Explorers, artists, innovators, mystics, must take this road less traveled. They must wander off the main and cut a new path. They must. Their fellows will wonder if they’ve taken leave of their senses. Left their right mind. The answer: no. They are following a deeper call, something speaking to their senses. They’ve left a mainstream that appears to them like total madness.

If logic is your compass it is, of course, best to stay on the road well-traveled. If safety and security is your goal, then a known path holds what you seek.

If knowing where you’re going sounds a lot like a death sentence, then leaving your right mind for a left-hand path is the only choice that makes sense.

Truth? I think the right-mind is bit of rhetoric that has little to do with the realities of being human. We find the rational side of things comfortable so it gets good marks. No one gets a cake-walk in this life. Everyone has a mountain to climb, a valley to get lost in, a spontaneous jump to make, a gut feeling, a heart to be listened to – and some of the worst impulsive decisions inevitably lead to the most profound growth experiences. It is only after the fact, when we need to make sense of our nonsensical leap, our follow-the-heart choice, that we call on the “right” mind to make the story coherent. Just ask Aesop.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about RIGHT MIND

 

 

footprints in sunlit snow website box copy

Shovel Snow And Survive

...and that's only half of it;-)

…and that’s only half of it;-)

We have a freakishly long driveway or so it seems to me every time it snows. During the summer months I never think about the length of the driveway. In fact, when it is not snow covered, I appreciate its ability to accommodate several cars. Valet services everywhere might lust after our snow-free driveway. Our neighbors routinely mistake our driveway for the approach to a country club.

Last night Skip took the train up from Chicago. It was his first visit to our house. His first question to me upon seeing the house was, “Are you the snow blower?” He immediately recognized the freakish length of the driveway due to the massive piles of snow that currently define it. Skip also knows I have an excessive amount of hot air (so I am capable of literally blowing snow when on a good rant) that interrupts any sense that I might actually possess. Point-in-fact, we have a snow blower that sits comfortably in the garage. It requires a goodly amount of maintenance or perhaps a single bullet to the engine. I’ve considered mounting it on a pedestal for my yard maintenance sculpture series. Had I confessed possession of a snow blower Skip would certainly have asked, “Does it blow snow?” What an absurd question! Of course not!

There’s something in me that likes a challenge. Last night it snowed and I couldn’t wait to step into my big Wisconsin boots, grab my new green shovel (I broke the old orange shovel in the last heavy snow), and get to it! Kerri shook her head and reminded me that people “my age” routinely expire from excessive snow shoveling and, since we have a freakishly long driveway, there is excessive snow to shovel. She made it sound like my demise was not only possible but imminent. She said it was simple logic: if A) excessive snow shoveling causes early dirt napping and B) there is excessive snow to shovel, then, C) my shoveling excessive amounts of snow excessively would likely lead to early dirt napping.

I reminded her that we are both artists and logic rarely interferes with our decision-making. “Then take your time,” she admonished. “Go slow.” Ah! In the rebuke of logic, a little bit of Zen is always welcome. I shoveled snow slowly and survived. I paused often to breathe-in the cold and listen to the wind.