Monday, March 15, 2010

MORE POST BRAIN SURGERY MUSINGS

One of the things I noticed in my early recovery from the brain surgery was the things I didn't notice.

You can't walk anywhere in my apartment without noticing books, there's bookshelves everywhere you go.

Before the brain surgery, they were not only a great comfort to me, just the sight of them, familiar and resonating with experiences I cherish, even if just the experience of handling that particular object, let alone reading it, or finding within its pages something that revealed a truth to me that I'd always known but never before seen articulated, or articulated in that way.

As I walked through my apartment pre surgery, a book would catch my eye, a title or binding, shape or color, etc. that would evoke a sensation of pleasure, like when you hear a recording you love or recognize an old friend or lover in the street.

But for quite a while after the surgery, I didn't notice any of the books on any of the shelves in any of the bookcases around my place. I was aware they were books and that they were mine and that at one time they had meant something to me, but for a while they didn't any more.

I couldn't read them even if I wanted to. And I was totally okay with that, I accepted it along with the possibility my ability to read might never return. I didn't miss it because somehow in my acceptance of what I was going through, I surrendered my love, my sometimes obsession with books, and lived in a world, no matter how temporarily, where books were just background.

It was like my view of my apartment as I lived throughout it in those days and weeks and more was being filtered through one of those soft lenses they used to use for some Hollywood stars in the old black-and-white classics, filtered through some kind of gauze or vaseline applied to the lens so that the edges of the frame were always blurred in a way that would have made it impossible to read the titles on the spines of any books in any bookcases.

I think about that now, because once again, as I move through my home, I'll notice a book and get that wave of sensation akin to re-experiencing something pleasurable or remarkable or worth remembering forever. It makes me smile and feel delighted to be alive in a world where these objects can provide me with so much satisfaction.

But it also makes me think about those for whom lots of things that give me pleasure don't do the same for them, or vice versa. And again it makes me think we're all wired in different ways, and a lot of the differences that seem to be separating so many in this country and maybe the world these days are just a result of different wiring and either not having or not using the systems created over time to ameliorate the conflict that different wiring has all too often led to.

6 comments:

Toby T. said...

Again, Michael, I think you're really onto something with this--in what I can only think now of as a book.

harryn said...

i know what you're saying, and how profoundly it effects you - and even heard you expand on some of the stories associated with them; the bookshelves, books, photographs, and art - not only in Jersey, but LA as well ...
a man's library is a map to his soul ...
as far as the 'wiring difference' - that's becoming so problematic - sometimes i wonder how the same thing can be interpreted so many ways or what our shared value is anymore ...

Jamie Rose said...

hmmm. I do like the idea of a post-brain surgery memoir. Brain Salad Surgery? Or Post-Surgery Brain Salad? OK OK my 70's progressive rock roots are showing.

Elisabeth said...

Michael, I admire the way you link the workings of your brain post surgery with the subtleties of your sense of self, your mind. The two are inextricably linked, taken for granted and perhaps far more obvious in the face of massive trauma, in your case physical, in other cases emotional. Both can be extraordinarily difficult to recover from. I applaud your efforts, through books, blogging and writing.

Lally said...

Toby, I hope I can find a publisher who agrees!
Rose, You calls dat progressive?
Elisabeth, Thank you, and I agree, any kind of major trauma is, or can be, transformative (I see a lot of that awareness and experience in your blog posts).

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