Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PREFACE: it was my intent to write a blog about the balance between nature and city-night-life-culture here in Brighton, but this (although perhaps slightly too closely related to the previous post) is what my stubborn finger insisted on typing. I figure maybe if I listen to them (or in this case, slave obediently to their needs) I can move on to the things I wanted to write about in the first place. END OF PREFACE.

Kelly-Cognition #2
I am currently hunched over a bowl of spicy channa dal, mingling in and out of theories about channel conductance, African Pentecostalism, and Johns Hopkins graduate program prerequisites (all of which are tabs on FireFox at the moment, besides the dal of course, which is currently in my mouth), and I find myself suddenly moved to write a bit about it all of these noise-making things in my mind. Darn. I will get on to more tangible, reality-based narrations again someday. I promise!

Sitting here, stepping back at the chaotic fusion of culture, interests, music, and things that constantly cake my life (usually silently, but sometimes blatantly- as is the current case), I a little bit worried. Although it is good to have a lot of diversity in one's existence,sometimes it complicates things.

Example #1 (and the only example at that):
I am starting to think a lot about my future goals, as insinuated in previous blogs (and as is evident by the respective tabs currently open), and what kind of real life decision I have to make in the coming days. I wrote last time about what kind of person I am morphing into, and in comparison, the current question (what kind of things will that person do?) is much more difficult to answer. I don't know what it is about being here in England that is making my desperately soul search (something I, probably ignorantly, assumed wouldn't be a product of a westernized-American-esque country), but it is definitely a process under way. Maybe it is something about Sussex, the international academic expectations, that are contributing to these cognitions. I am not sure.

Regardless of the cause, I think the problems is I have FAR too many obscure passions, none of which I want to commitment to(typical girl, no?). The incapacity to stay in places for long periods of time, puddle jumping from the sciences to language, and flustered bloggage are all exemplary of this problem. But the thing is, I don't want to force myself into restriction. If I am suddenly impassioned by particle theory (which I have had several recent episodes of) why not pursue it?

It's just the idea that in 1 year I will be applying to a graduate program, and by then I need to have at least SOME of an idea about what I want to study in a more permanent context. Yeah, it is pretty clear to me right now Cognitive Neuroscience is always going to play a major role, but there are SO many routes that my academic tush can trod down. Here is a list, that took me a seriously disgusting amount of time to narrow down, of the things I could foresee myself studying in relation to cognitive science:

3. Meditation and prayer (i.e. attentional acuity)
4. Rewiring

Not having an idea how to thread something substantial through all of these niches is the current predicament. Actually, it is more of a an impossibility, than a predicament.

I have no resolution. I am swimming confusedly right now without much success. It is getting to a point where I am going up to my professors after class to ask them about their opinions about what kind of work the world needs in this realm of study, as well as keeping a notepad full of facts I find exceptionally moving, in hopes I will find a trend. Sounds scientific? desperate? That's because it is. Hah. But hopefully with at least a dollop of eventual success.

What else is a lass to do?

I know Ghana will only complicate things, probably igniting some kind of inner passion about aboriginal political structures or something equally obscure and unemployable.But, there is not much else I can rationalize to do than to follow my heart (albeit a little bit erratic at times).

Little nudges from wiser men than myself are always welcome. :)

p.s. watch this:


  1. I can't claim to be wiser than yourself, but I have a few more years under my belt, and my reaction is, what's your rush to narrow your focus? Why do you need to apply to grad school next year? It will still be there later when you have a clearer idea of what to study, and a few years' work experience will only help your application (not that you necessarily need help). Granted (no pun intended), student loans and health insurance are bitches without a steady job, but if you're ever going to live close to the bone, your 20s are the time to do it, while you're healthy and have no dependents. So my advice is to take the opportunity to explore some of your many options and see how you like them before you buy back into academia.

    Good luck, and I look forward to hearing about whatever you decide!

  2. I like this Ben.

    In my experience, despite all the planning and thinking a person can and does do, paths tend to open up that lead away from that little highway you're trying to build. In my experience, changing direction when you're being nudged to wander off-track is always easier and ultimately better than trying to force the way.

    If what you think the "problem" is is that you don't even know what kind of road you want to TRY to make, maybe you can just step back and breathe deep, let the present wash over you, and wait for something to illuminate. It always does. I understand feeling urgent--like you'll need ten lifetimes to make a dent in all you want to see and accomplish and you need to start NOW--but if you stop trying to grab fish with your hand and just contemplate the water for a while instead, I bet you'll see a million beautiful little fishes, all just waiting to take you somewhere wonderful.

    Mixed-metaphor wisdom from someone who has not eaten all day and is a little weird and fuzzy in the head in the best of circumstances.

    Where are you going to be when you come back to America over xmas?


  3. Hey Kelly,

    I’ve been thinking about you.

    I want to tell you how extraordinarily blessed you are to be so passionate about what you are learning and wish to learn. To have chosen good company and worthwhile adventures, and to know how to make lemonade. To know, at a young age, what you stand for, and to have the strength to hold yourself up within your values without becoming cold and hard. To have a beautiful smile, strong body and sharp mind, and to use all three daily. Nevermind that you don’t see yet how it all comes together, nor that you may not be able to pursue all paths at once; that is normal for those with a lot to offer; impatience is a common mistake of the young and of, in particular, those of us with fire signs rising. ...To have so many areas of interest guarantees that you will never be bored, and that, as you continue to explore each of them, you will have more and more to draw from as your offerings to the world become apparent to you. We live in a world half-full of the half-dead. Be glad you have passion! Never lose it. It is your greatest gift.

    Besides, as I look at your list of interests, it seems silly to me that you see them as disparate. I’ll give an example I have been thinking about writing you about anyway. It has a long preamble that begins here: Upon graduating I have come to kick myself for not planning better during college what steps I would take next. (This is different from your predicament though, dear, because in college I gave up passion for mere diligence. Passion will never fail you.) With priorities confused, I graduated summa cum laude, but couldn’t find a decent job. Eventually I found two part time jobs, relatively low paying and not related to my area of study. Combined, they sustain me. One of them is right up your alley. I work at a small business in Santa Cruz called the Center for Transformational Neurophysiology. It’s a 2-person biofeedback, neurofeedback, entrainment, massage, etc. healing practice. Now I’m not a neurologist, but I’m deeply compelled by and naturally talented in psychology and in matters of health and body functions. I have a science background (from environmental studies), but what fascinates, drives, and makes sense to me are matters of spirit. You can imagine I’ve felt at times that I walk between worlds. But here, it all comes together. I recently assisted my boss with preparing a talk called “The Science of Spirit,” to be delivered on a Saturday night at a popular new-age church. I helped locate images from studies depicting the effects of various meditation practices, shamanism, Ayahuasca, “ah-ha!” moments, etc., on neurophysiological functions such as brain blood flow, brain waves, & heart coherence. It was a great talk. It aroused in me all sorts of curiosities and connections. In this example, something *I* recently experienced encompasses several of YOUR various passions. And this is just one little snapshot of a healing business in Santa Cruz, CA. You, miss world traveler, will find oodles more than that. You’ll meet and be inspired by people who have designed their own unique businesses, organizations, and other enterprises by fusing their unique constellations of interests and talents. You’ll find tons MORE things that interest you, and the ones that are really yours will draw you to them as they resurface again and again. And your own fused constellation will become clear as its elements ripen.

    Thank your Higher Power(s) that you live a charmed and passionate life, and that you have the resources to carve out a special path for yourself - even if you don’t yet know where it’s going. Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. Keep good memories and don’t burn bridges. You have the wisdom to stay out of trouble, so all your choices are good. Don’t doubt yourself. Trust and follow your passion. That’s all you need.