The Difference Between “You” and “I”

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In total darkness and bubbled water I sat, crying my eyes out uncontrollably, my chest heaving with hysterical cries. Rushing in like a madman to save his damsel in distress, my hubby got down on his knees, praying I hadn’t fallen, praying our baby hadn’t decided that would be the day he arrived. Still unable to calm down enough to speak, I nodded my head to show that my distress was not physical. After a minute or two in watchful silence, accompanied by a lot of head scratching, followed by his hand thrust into the water, Don looked at me even more perplexed. “I don’t get it. This water is pretty warm so it can’t be that.” He was of course referring to the day before, which was the first time he had to rush into the bathroom to rescue his delirious bride, mother of his soon-to-be son, whose eyes and decibel level appeared to be seriously trying to compete with Victoria Falls, for no reason other than the lack of hot water. This time, my anguish was over something far more solemn and deserving.

Sensing that our first (and only) child would be showing his face in a matter of days, I had finally permitted myself to look beyond my pregnancy and imagine all the possible kinds of fun we’d soon share with our child, when I was rudely interrupted by the ever so practical, pragmatic side of me that had to speak up and remind me that with fun also comes responsibility. (What a Party Popper!)

# # #

I was already well prepared for that without any serious trepidations, but what had managed to get me in such a panic was the sudden realization, Don and I bore the primary responsibility for teaching our child to SPEAK! and I had absolutely no clue how to do it. Okay. Breathe.

I tried to work it out in my head while lying in my (usually) calming bubble bath with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” wafting in from a stereo in the adjacent room. I managed to come up with a plan for words like ”Cat”,”Dog”,”Apple“, and ”Daddy”. That was good. Then, I came up with similar solutions for a nice size rudimentary vocabulary that I figured would get him through his first year. Whew! That’s when the ground began to shake and give way and the dark clouds suddenly overcame me, when the terrifying thought entered my brain screaming out “How on earth are you going to teach your infant – a virtual alien to this planet born without any conception of words or their purpose – the difference between “You” and “I”?

That day, in the throes of the lunacy commonly shared by many women in the 48-72 hours before giving birth, this dilemma seemed not only rational but absolutely crucial to our child’s entire future. Perhaps I had seen Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine one too many times or spent too many hours reading Sartre and Kierkegaard. As it turned out, my pregnant panic was all for nought. The truth is, I never had to consciously teach Robert how to distinguish between that particular pair of words or the meaning behind them, as one day, somewhere between the ages of 18 months and 2 years, Don and I realized that Rob was way ahead of us and had figured out this linguistic dilemma all on his own! Just like a million other toddlers before and after him, likewise accomplished.

# # #

The memory of that day, which was close to 30 years ago, popped into my consciousness last week-end while my oldest, dearest friend and I were enjoying the intellectual challenge of trying to apply various philosophical, scientific, psychological, and spiritual theories to the very concrete reality of each of our lives, trying to find the sense in what has no sense. While the specific facts and circumstances of my friend‘s life has little in common with mine – at least to the naked eye – we have shared the same frustration, hurt, and complete bewilderment over how can there be (and why?) people, chronologically adults, who somehow managed to miss out on that “Aha!” moment, when most toddlers learned that there IS a difference between “You” and “I”.

Subtle as the concept may be about where “You” end and another person begins, it just seems so fundamental to the ability to get beyond the proverbial sandbox, that I find it even more incomprehensible as to why it seems to be such an impossible hurdle for some folks to handle, despite the fact that for most other intents and purposes, they seem to have above-average intelligence and potential.

”When we feel our emotional boundaries, we can discriminate between our feelings & another’s feelings. We can hear another’s feelings & not have to fix them. We can discern what issues are ours & what issues belong to the other person. We can protect ourselves from being dumped on when someone else can’t handle his feelings. We can refuse to take responsibility when it rightly belongs to the other guy.” Boundaries – Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine

I simply don’t get it and so these remain questions I still have no answers for.

And that’s my rant for the day and utterly biased opinion. 🙂 What’s yours?

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a.k.a. “Rip Van Winkle”

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Geezus Frog! Is it 2011 already? I seem to have overslept a bit… 🙂

For those of you wondering where the heck I’ve been for the last month or so, or those who were worrying whether I had gotten too big for my britches and abandoned this blog in favor of fame and fortune in the world of commerce: I thank y’all for caring so much, for the many private e-mails, for your patience and forgiveness, and assure you that my feet are still squarely planted on the ground (or at least metaphorically as they are actually at a right angle to the ground and hiding beneath several layers of quilts and blankets).

As the subtitle of this blog declares, the theme here is “The Art of Survival”, and that is what I’ve been doing: Just trying to survive. If you’ve ever been pregnant or observed it from afar, there is an odd phenomenon where a few days before the babe makes his grand entrance, Mom2Be gets a splurge of energy and accomplishes incredible feats of creative and physical effort. It could be anything from chopping enough firewood to keep the kid warm through kindergarten, wallpapering the entire house as well as the neighbor’s, or stripping and finishing an ancient grand piano. Well, my body, for some weird reason, adopts that routine whenever I’m just about to suffer a relapse, and that’s just what happened this time after enjoying a flurry of creative activity from Sept.-Nov. I’m still having a hard time of it and really have no way to predict how often I’ll be able to post but I’m hoping to get back here at least once a week for as long as I can.

In any case, while I’ve been “away”, if I hadn’t known before, I was reminded once again of the riches I’ve been blessed with in friends. Janie, Mi’chele, Art & Enid, Steve & Sue, Barry & Sharon, and Michelle B. too, are each the jewels I shall always cherish. In goodtimes or bad, in silence or song, these are friends who linger long, whether close or far away. What I’ve done to deserve you I have no idea but pray I can live up to your example.

“But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

”There is nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends.” Hillaire Belloc

”Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.“ C. S. Lewis

”If you think that the world means nothing, think again. You might mean the world to someone else.“ Unknown (fun link but I doubt this quote was his)

“One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.” Euripides (408 B.C.)

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What The Dormouse Said (The Art of Epilepsy)

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Recent events in my own life reminded me of a blog post titled, “What About Lewis Carroll” by Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti, that I’d found a few years ago concerning the role temporal lobe epilepsy played in the delightful imagination of The Rev. Charles Dodgson (author of such beloved classics as “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” that was published in 1865 under his more familiar nom de plume, Lewis Carroll). Finding out I had something in common with one of my literary heroes, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (also referred to as ‘Complex Partial Seizures’ or ‘Psychomotor Epilepsy’), peaked my interest in finding out more about Dodgson personally and also about other famous authors, artists, and composers who have lived with this diagnosis, and whether medical science has been able to find a cause-and-effect between TLE and the vivid imaginations, mystical experiences, and profuse output of creative works of such persons. While I have not come across a research study that definitively proves or disproves a biological etiology for such traits, I did find an enormous interest among experts in the field of cognitive neuroscience and a plethora of research that appears well on the way to not only proving such a connection but also being able to map it out in the brain.

Is that cool, or what?

In any case, if you’re either a fan of Lewis Carroll, have an interest in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy in general or in learning more about the recent discoveries in Cognitive Neuroscience identifying the exact location(s) in the brain and the environmental and biological triggers that produce highly attenuated senses (visual, auditory, taste, smell and/or touch), out-of-body feelings, paranormal experiences, hyper-religiosity, déjà vu (a feeling of familiarity), jamais vu (a feeling of unfamiliarity), hypergraphia, altered states of consciousness such as euphoria and samadhi, and more, I’ve put together a selection of links that I think you’ll enjoy. At the top of the list you’ll find links to Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti’s blog where she has a number of scholarly articles about Lewis Carroll and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. I recommend these as a good place to start.

Suitably apropos, this morning’s serving of artwork is built around my interpretation of one of Lewis Carroll’s hand-sketched illustrations that was included in the 1865 first publication of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. (Special Note: While the images linked below are low-resolution (72 ppi), I’ll be sending off to the printer’s the 600 ppi original file later this week and making the image available through my Zazzle store in poster-size as well as a Greeting Card.)

Enjoy!

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Alice 600

Alice, Not Feeling Quite Herself (600 x 720px)

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