Passion

gogh-bandaged-ear1Here’s a question for the depressed, the trapped, or the merely unmotivated.

What drives us?

Hunger? Fear? Passion?

For now, let’s forget hunger and fear. They’re pretty basic. Solid. They can be shifted, a little, but mostly you have them or you don’t; as solid and ancient and immobile as time and tide.

But passion…ephemeral, exquisite, entrancing passion. It drives us and tears us down. An inside force that pulls like an outside force, a force that can build, or destroy us. Humanity speaks of the drive that comes from passion as an outside influence. We speak of the muses as gods that bestow passion to the lucky few. We speak of those with passion as being blessed.

Perhaps they are, or perhaps they aren’t. They used to kill men, letting them be dragged to death by wild horses. Pure need seems to have pretty much the same effect. Look at van Gogh.

But is that worse than a life lived without passion?

There are some things all humans just know. When a baby is upset, or really hurt. When someone is angry. And being different. Even the challenged kids know when every one else has something that they just don’t seem to possess. They don’t like it either.

I think I lived my whole life wondering what drive looked like from the inside. Pressed up against the storefront glass, watching the way the driven people moved, how they ate, how they spoke. And mostly I played a pretty good game, pretending; I’m not untalented, just uninvolved. But what I saw as I watched, was enticing. You can see what it is…you just can’t touch it. That’s maddening.

[Side note: Is this what television does to us? Does it show us the things we are not, creating an ever-spiralling circle of unfulfilled hunger? Some may disagree, but I don’t think we are bright enough or sufficiently in control of our base selves to truly know, on every level, that it ain’t real.]

Yet none of us are completely devoid of passion, they ebb and flow – and the one thing that always made it possible for me to continue was people. They’re lovely, endlessly fascinating, and when someone around you has passion and drive, it’s almost like you have some yourself. But, in the end, it’s just an act. It burns away and on to the next…you end up skipping across the surface of your life, never really digging in. You never succeed the way you should, and lets’s face it – you never really live.

Perhaps humans are built this way; some leaders, some followers. Perhaps without a sensible ratio, the human race bobs around in billions of tiny boats, bumping hulls, stealing fish and singing “My Way” at the top of our collective lungs.

Whatever the genetic necessity however, it REALLY wasn’t working for me. Clearly a leader, trapped in a follower’s body, like some sort of motivational transvestite. [Yup, I already regret that simile. Too late now, though.]

My cure? Sit on my ass and wait for passion to come. Occasionally do something fun or scary. Against all odds, this worked. Naturally it backfired immediately, but hey, it’s not all pool parties in the Hamptons, is it.

Gods willing, the neuro will help with the rest of it or reduce the level of distraction that forces me to keep finding new sources of passion.

So, if neuro does help…

Is passion the natural human state, absenting sadness and distraction? Can we just reawaken it with technical wizardry? Must we wait for outside forces to provide inspiration or can we, without an ember or a spark to warm, ignite the fire by rubbing sticks?

Does anyone have a match?

PS. Next time I promise to write about something more upbeat. Like brain injury.

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Neurotherapy – Day 9 – Four out of Five Experts are Flabbergasted.

CandyFirst things first, I felt fantastic today. No treatment the last two days (obviously, since I’m in class) and absolutely no fall off on concentration, motivation or mood. Not over the top, just really really good. Before Neurotherapy, I often had a sense of fear or overwhelming exhaustion when starting a task. It’s just gone…completely. Was discussing this stuff with some of the counselors in the room (can’t throw a rock without hitting one and even if you did they would just ask about my feelings. Except the woman from New York. I’m pretty sure she’d just hit me with the nearest chair.).  Mentioned trying anti-depressants back home, and the fact that, while they helped mood some, I never felt myself, not sharp, not clever. Never stayed on them as a result. This isn’t like that at all. I don’t expect it would last if I stopped now, but I have absolutely no intention of stopping before I finish the 20 or 30 or 40 sessions I need to really make this, well, maybe not permanent but close enough for me.

The Course

Today was the start of practical application of the theory behind the Othmer system. Just in case we were under the impression that it was going to get easy, the morning was more challenging than the day before. It’s tempting to run away, but the lunch is so good you have to stick around.

About the theory (and if you hate stuff like that just jump ahead)

Over the course of the morning I talked with a bunch of the people in the course, asking them what they thought thus far. I talked to a few doctors, a psychologist, and a math professor from a California university. Each one had their own take on it, but the general consensus was (and I’m paraphrasing) “Well, I’ve got an open mind, but this is really different from anything I’ve seen before. I’ll have to wait and see whether it works in practice.” Individually, each could look at pieces in their own area of knowledge (network theory, pain management, trauma counseling, etc.) and see the possibility. It’s a dizzyingly large body of completely new concepts or old concepts reimagined in new way or a blurry combination of the two.

Luckily, the primary work of scientists is relentlessly finding new ways to be wrong without ever admitting they believed something completely different the week before. If the Othmer’s theory proves to be true, there will be a massive and complete about-face so breathtaking that long term use of chemical anti-depressants, anti-convulsants and so on will make the “flat earth” model seem like quite a good idea. Many will declare that they always believed it so, while others will declare those ones big fat liars it was their idea first.

I can follow most of it, understanding-wise, but I don’t even have the beginnings of the knowledge I would need to critique it, so I’m largely along for the ride, hanging on and hoping my intellectual pants don’t fly off. I’m grateful to have at least a few people in the room ready to call bullshit if they hear it. Like a security blanket sewn out of smart people. [Ed. Note – This is a metaphor, and it’s late so it’s the only one I could think of. I generally renounce violence of any sort. Do not phone the police.]

Ok – You can start reading again.

The remainder of the day was teaming off into pairs and having a go with the machines. This, it seems, is pretty much what everyone was waiting for. Even those of us with the little drool marks started working with the sort of focus and attention normally reserved for bomb disposal. Which it kind of looked like. Damn…where does the gray wire go again? Oh…sorry Ed.

This part was, definitely, really really fun. I’ve talked about the process before so I won’t bore you but, in the same way as driving is not the same as being a passenger, working as the clinician monitoring the subject was a radically different experience.

We had all been warned ( and I had already seen it firsthand), how insanely fast the body reacts to the right (or the wrong) reward frequency (the brainwaves you are telling your head to make more of). Even so, everyone in the room was flabbergasted when symptoms like headaches, sweating, anxiety and muscle tension broke out across the room while they searched for the reward frequency that worked for the individual. The Othmer’s new technology allows the machines to be set anywhere from 40 to 0.001 hz (which is crazy low). Interestingly, 0.0001 hz is pretty much where many people seem to like their rewards. Although I had previously found with Sue thathis was my personal frequency, I let my partner (I’ll call him Ed, mostly because that’s his name) hunt around a little, in order to get a feeling for the question-asking process. Even after dialling it back, the muscles in my chest didn’t untighten for two hours.

I remember thinking the day before, “Wow, these are committed and serious individuals (which they are). Look at them all paying such close attention.” After the demonstration, that just totally fell apart. There’s really no other word to describe the class but giddy, with poor Sue having to shush people and shout over the noise like it was free candy day at the Kindergarten. At a guess, I’d say they were all pretty excited at the prospect of finding a tool that could actually make a huge difference in the lives of their clients. The physical reactions had, for the first time, made that a tangible possibility.

Which, after all, IS pretty exciting.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Hey. I’m Tim.

I’ve got some stuff wrong with me and I’m going to try using neurotherapy to fix it.

Thing is, I don’t really know what’s wrong. I come off as all right, bright even. I just don’t seem to get ahead. Lots of skill, just never quite accomplish the the things I want to complete.

I’ve talked to professionals who told me I was fine…Fact is my greatest fear is that they are right. Maybe I’m just lazy.

And yet, I don’t feel lazy. I feel trapped. Trapped and I don’t know how, or how to escape from it.

I procrastinate, crunch into myself, get depressed, can’t concentrate, forget stuff…maybe it’s all part of being human. Or maybe there really is something going on. Maybe that can’t be changed. Maybe it’s something that can be fixed so I can reach my real potential. Maybe I just don’t have any greater potential than I have already reached.

Maybe I’m completely delusional, thinking there is something greater within me.

Or maybe I have generalized prefrontal cortex difficulties that affect a whole bunch of areas in my life. Could be anything from minor brain damage due to birth trauma (Those gosh darn forceps) to mild ADHD, to heritable depression or some interesting cocktail of any and all those.

Whatever…I’m done with not knowing how to deal with it. Or being less than I need to be.

So I’m going to have a good long look, using neurotherapy. They are going to do a full scan of my brainwaves and hopefully pinpoint what the hell’s going on. Then they might be able to fix it. Neurotherapy works pretty well for some of that stuff, from what I’ve seen. I’m leaving for California in a month to assess and maybe re-train my brain, to learn how EEG training works, and to bring back an EEG machine that will make it all happen.

Wish me luck.

PS. This is me, except I don’t actually get the shopping done either. Procrastination. Lunch of Champions

PPS. I’m going to try and keep track of how I’m feeling over this month. Obviously it’s not really a scientific process, more the blind leading the doubly-blind. See how it goes.