December 22, 2005 @ 6:15 am | Filed under:

From a beautiful post about discovery, learning, Beethoven’s string quartets, and the way the mind works at The Last Step into the Cellar:

I don’t understand the mind. I don’t understand how it can try to be logical even as it tricks itself into not being so. I don’t understand how the mind focuses, employs its skills, or prioritizes. Three years ago I slipped on some ice getting into my car. It was one very small patch of ice between my car and my wife’s van. I didn’t see it at all and hit it completely unprepared, and because I could not fall down, I kept slipping and slipping as I tried to regain my footing until my ankle folded over on itself and went twist-twist-snap-snap. It broke so badly that it flopped freely as I hopped back toward my house. I sat on the stoop wondering what to do next, and I suddenly realized how very calm I was and that I wasn’t panicking, that in fact my mind was far more actively in control of my body than it had ever been before and that it would see me through this, and I was overwhelmed with the feeling of not having to do anything really, that all was being taken care of. Of course I knew the ankle would need mending in ways I could not do, and indeed it took some surgery, three screws, and a stay in the hospital, but those were givens. It seems ironic that I had never before felt such union of body and mind as I did that morning when my body broke, but it’s the truth of that morning and one I won’t forget. My body was following orders. My body had flashed “Emergency!” and my mind knew where to go with that. My mind was in command and control. It felt wonderful.

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