REALITY ??

LIFE, ACCORDING TO COOK

This page was dictated,stream of consciousness. If anything seems absurd when you read it, go ahead and laugh. I was probably serious when I wrote it but my feelings won’t be hurt because I won’t be able to hear you laughing. 

Margaret and I met and had lunch with two other couples a couple of days ago. Our connection was several of us had attended Oak Harbor high school together 60 years ago. Several stories were told about things that happened back then and it was a lot of fun. Memory is an interesting phenomenon.

This morning after awakening from a sound sleep I was lying there in a pensive mood and my brain was enjoying itself with thoughts and memories bouncing around at random. Once I realized what was happening in my brain, my mind, I took some degree of control and started looking at memories from my early childhood and thought it might be a good idea to write/record my memories and stories from the beginning forward based on little things that stuck in my mind and remain as memories to this day. I am aware when I reconstruct the situation and circumstances around those memorize it might not be very accurate because of the way the brain apparently works. My, nonofficial, understanding of the way the brain recalls things from the past is; a specific memory or memory of a specific thing or incident is the starting point. From this starting point the brain reaches into a vast pool of other memories and recollections of things and pulls as many pieces as are needed to create a full picture around the specific starting point. I saw an example of this when I returned to Oak Harbor years ago and sat down with a group of people I had been in school with. One of them, who I didn’t even recall knowing in school, told a story about something he and I did which I remember very clearly. The difference was, I remembered I had done it with someone else. It was talked about a lot and he had apparently heard the story  frequently.  he eventually adopted it as his own memory and he was truthful and thinking he was telling a story involving the two of us together. I have heard the same story told by others from that era and it differed from my recollections of reality each time. Each of us had rebuilt the story based on a specific incident and a lot of random incidents in our big memory pool. The items in this big memory pool are apparently un-assigned to specific incidents and used as needed.

I love words and I try to use words correctly. Each time I am about to say something about having written or dictated something already I wrestle with which is the correct word to use. For explanation, I am dictating using a voice recognition program so I don’t have to type. I have wanted to do more writing for many years but because my typing skills are rudimentary at best, I found it very difficult if not impossible to put good thoughts on paper in any order that made sense. After dictating the previous paragraph I realize the concept I was looking for was stream of consciousness. I have encountered this a few times in the past when preparing for a speech or something and recognized its value for the way my mind works. My mind races ahead of my typing speed or even my speaking speed so a lot of what happens in my mind gets lost before it ever gets transferred to anyone else or any other medium. When I was half awake this morning and I realized I was in a half dream state with my mind racing from issue to issue and thought to thought without me directing it I believe I discovered what I will call “stream of unconsciousness”.

Remembering the phrase “stream of consciousness” reminded me of something in my life I feel is somewhat unique to me that not everybody else experiences. Whether I am really different from others in the way my brain works or not I don’t know for sure but I do know my brain is very active and to a large degree has a mind of its own. This is probably described by some academic person but I’ve never found it described by others. A friend trained in psychology told me there was a name for it that I can’t remember that name. It has to do with levels of the mind other than the conscious. I participated in a group hypnosis demonstration one time and do not feel I was really successful in being hypnotized by someone to the level they could plant subconscious thoughts in my mind. That might be possible but I haven’t made it work. I did, however, hypnotize myself one time when I wasn’t trying to. My problem with trying to do that sort of thing is my lack of focus. I keep looking at all angles of everything as it enters my mind and that breaks the focus that would be necessary to use self hypnosis. The time I hypnotized myself was when I was a college student . I lived in a small semi basement apartment by myself and one day when I was restless I knew going out and driving around would probably only frustrate me because I would be spending money on gas and wouldn’t accomplish much. Instead of leaving my apartment in the middle of the day I laid down on the bed on top of the covers and rested with my eyes closed. I may have gone to sleep or may have still been awake, I’m not sure which, but I found myself dreaming or daydreaming. I had daydreamed a lot when I was younger and never thought anything about what I was doing or what was going on in my mind. On this occasion I consciously recognize the fact my mind was dreaming about doing things and it was visual just like I was having a dream in my sleep or almost like watching TV. This was going on at one level of my brain and I was realizing it was happening with another level of my brain. Out of curiosity I decided to try to direct the dreaming that was going on to new scenarios like one would change the channels on a TV set. It worked and I was enjoying the fun of dreaming at will when suddenly I experienced a loud noise combined with flashing lights in my mind. It was the same audio and visual effect I experienced when I went under ether when I had my tonsils out many years before. This loud noise and flashing was frightening and my first thought was maybe the house was on fire or something. When I first tried to move I couldn’t move. After trying to physically move for a short period of time I regrouped my thoughts and focused on moving my foot. I succeeded in moving my foot and when I did, I woke up.

My experience with self hypnosis was interesting but I didn’t even realize I had hypnotize myself at the time. I was very busy with classes in school and driving truck for Oak Harbor freight lines in the afternoon and I didn’t give it a lot of thought at that time. About 20 years later while living in Fairbanks Alaska I had gotten a pilot’s license and had another experience similar to my self hypnosis experience. This one was different in that I didn’t hypnotize myself but I was able to observe what was happening in part of my mind with another part of my mind. I had flown a Cessna 172 from Fairbanks to Delta Junction in the afternoon with the intention of returning home that day. Whatever I was there for took longer than expected and it was approaching darkness by the time I got back to the airplane. It was winter and it had been snowing off and on. When I checked with flight service I learned there was a squall line of snowstorms across my intended rout between Delta Junction and Fairbanks. Otherwise, the weather in Fairbanks was clear and expected to remain clear. I made the conscious decision to fly through a, possibly zero visibility, snowstorm after dark even though I did not have an instrument rating. I had flown the route many times and  knew there were no mountains to run into. Even though I did not have an instrument rating I felt confident about my abilities to fly with only instrument reference. After I took off and headed for Fairbanks I knew the flight service information had been correct because once I got a couple of thousand feet in the air I should have been able to see the lights of Fairbanks 70 miles away. I could see nothing ahead of me except pitch black. Sure enough a few minutes later I started seeing the snowflakes flash around the windshield and before long I was flying in the thick of extremely heavy snowfall. Not only could I not see the ground or any stars, I couldn’t see anything except the instrument panel of the airplane. From training, I consciously focused intently on the airspeed, altitude, rate of climb and the horizontal position indicators. While I was doing this with my conscious mind I realized my unconscious or subconscious mind was doing something else. It was screaming {In my mind) at me to pull up or pull back on the yoke to gain altitude because in my subconscious mind there was a fear I would run into something. I was traveling over a hundred miles an hour and could only see 10 feet ahead of me. I rationally knew there was nothing to run into but one part of my mind wasn’t convinced. Some of the muscles in my arms tried to pull up on the yoke and other muscles in my arms resisted. The “trying to make me gain altitude” part of my mind screamed at me to reach over and add power and the other part of my mind told me to keep focusing on the instruments and doing exactly what I was doing. In addition to these two parts of my mind operating independently, a third part of my mind observed the battle going on and found it amusing. I almost laughed at myself as I realized what was going on in my head. After what may have only been a few minutes I started seeing the lights of Fairbanks in the distance and no longer had to depend entirely on the instruments. Unlike my self hypnosis experience years before I had the time in the following days I examine what had happened. My best analysis was, I had used what Freud had referred to as the id, ego and superego parts my mind separately. I’ve never seen this described in writing or heard it described by anyone but it was clearly an experience I will always remember.

BRAIN

I think I have an active or even an old overactive brain. Being reminded of the admonition to not judge another tell you have walked a mile in their shoes/moccasins, I am aware my brain might not really be overactive but might even be underactive. I don’t know what everybody else’s brain does. One of the few things I remember clearly is when I took my first philosophy class in college. As the professor lectured on the history of philosophy and told us about Plato and Aristotle and Descartes and other ancient philosophers, I had a feeling of exaltation. Finding out there were other people with the same questions in their minds I had but had not dared to ask about made me feel like a dried-up sponge on the desert with water being poured on it.

I have, with tongue-in-cheek, referred to myself as a philosopher off-and-on through my life but have never been inclined to try to qualify, however that is done, as a true philosopher. I do know my brain operates quite independent of what I think of as me or my consciousness. It is asking questions and coming up with answers continuously night and day. When I meet someone and they comment on some business issue or dilemma they face my brain races like a car motor with the throttle stuck open. Occasionally I feel one of the answers my brain comes up with is worth conveying to the person with the problem but most the time my brain moves on to other issues and i try to keep my mouth shut.

I am at a stage of my life I need to think a little more seriously about my financial future than I have for the previous 78 years. I’ve never worried about having any significant money in the future as long as I had enough to pay my debts. Since I was old enough to be on my own I have generally had some debts because when I felt like doing something, whether buying a book or traveling to a foreign country, I did it. I did it and then figured out how I was going to pay for it. I am fortunate Margaret adapted to my disdain for security and has put up with me for over 53 years.

Other than playing with words more than most people, I never gave much thought to my brain until we were in our serious auto accident in 2005. After getting out of the hospital and being home a couple of weeks I realized something was wrong. I hadn’t picked up a book or read anything to pass time since the accident even though I had plenty of free time while sitting around with my crippled foot. I could read but whatever I read seemed to go into my head and go right out again and if I tried to comprehend anything difficult I almost immediately became brain weary.

I had some experience with drinking martinis so I came up with a name for this brain fog condition. I named it my “martini feeling”. It was most noticeable whenever I spoke about or had to relive the details around the accident. I would immediately become mentally exhausted. I was told by a psychologist after they did a cognitive test and a CAT scan of my brain, there was nothing physical they could see.  The only treatment he could suggest would be to keep trying to read and utilize my brain  to exercise it.

The first book I read was a coffee table book about the brain I had bought mostly, fir the pictures. It also had explanations of how different parts of the brain worked. After reading that book I went on to read several other books discussing what neuroscientists have been learning about the brain in recent years with new technology. After a few weeks I found I could concentrate and focus on things for longer and longer periods of time. After a few months the martini feeling was not with me every day. It would return suddenly with stress or when Margaret would raise her arm and say something at the same time while I was driving. That motion was what she had done when she saw the trailer starting to fishtail  a second before I saw it.

Money

Money is a concept. It is an ingenious way of storing the fruits of labor for future use. People who make most of their life decisions in order to accumulate money used to be called misers.  Now they are called successful.

Fun

Fun is almost as difficult to describe as is money. Whereas money is a way of storing the fruits of one’s labor, fun is one of the better ways of spending the fruits of one’s labor. Sometimes it competes with investing and gaining education but ideally one can do either of these while having fun also.

Fun seems to have a frivolous non-serious connotation until it is looked at closely. Climbing a rock faced cliff with your bare hands is obviously very dangerous and non-frivolous but to some people that is fun. Struggling through deep snow in subzero temperatures with a snow machine more frequently stuck than moving forward was fun for me but many others would probably not agree.

If I succeed in creating a link here to my other, newly created site I will be pleased.

It worked.  Accomplishing something thought to be difficult is one of the most fun things I know of.  That is all for now. 11/17/17 Cleaned up, at least partially on 8/2/18.