Imagine the universe is a cosmic garden of living beings. Flowers, oceans, galaxies, dogs, mermaids, starfish, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, sisters, brothers, suns. Each living being expresses itself through an infinite mathematical formula designed by a Creator who accounted for the fact that each formula for each living being had the free will to effect the beings around it. Sunflowers can look away or face it. We can whine or shine. Trees can grip the earth by shooting out deep roots or end up shallow and tip over at the slightest breeze. In other words we’re Products of Providential Probability. X equals I don’t know why but sometimes we see.
For instance, humans eat all the cows so the planet keeps getting hotter. I used all the hairspray in the 80’s so there’s a hole in the sky. Sorry. Some people have all the unprotected sex so there’s lots of accidental babies who become adults who feel like accidents. Crude tycoons tried saving money by switching to Geico and accidentally spilled all the oil in the ocean. You’re texting while walking, walk right into a pole and bonk your head. The class jackass punches you but instead of punching him back you tell him you get it, he has attachment issues because he’s got an absent, verbally abusive father and you’re sorry his mom died having her third nose job. Then you offer him half of your No Evil Foods, pulled vegan-pork sandwich smothered in coleslaw and he has the emotional breakthrough he didn’t even know he needed.
Each time one living being physically, emotionally or psycho-spiritually interacts with another living being it produces a simultaneous chain reaction. I fully admit to death staring at the slow car in front of me which seems to appear every time I’m trying to get anywhere in this lifetime. Our action or reaction sets into motion the consequence of the hurt and the spontaneous initiation of healing. Regenerative cells live in all organic matter, which can’t be created or destroyed. I’m still trying to figure out how that applies to things we manufacture, like poles, cars, houses and the biggest mystery of all: Sham-Wow’s. Alien technology straight out of Florida.
Since the very first hurt we’ve been in a cosmic game of dominoes. In one direction the dominoes are being knocked down. In the other other direction they’re being re-set. The entire game lives inside a spiral because my Italian step-grandma Jenny snuck wine into heaven in her crochet bag and gave God the spins so she could try and win. At least, I think that was her strategy when I was in high school.
Resilience can’t be measured using oversimplified checklists with questions about whether or not someone is nice or strong because healing from trauma is as mysterious as belly buttons and as complicated as algebra; the super advanced algebra with those symbols that look like hieroglyphs which Word calls wingdings which I thought were second cousins of cupcakes.
Life can’t be measured on a checklist. There’s no one-size fits all prescription for self-actualization because there’s a biopsychosocialspiritual formula as big as the ever-expanding universe. Biopsychosocialspiritual, say it five times fast. Add cultural. Add croutons. Subtract acne, periods and calories. Pretend God is a math teacher and he whispered parts of the formula to different people throughout history but never planned on letting us see the whole thing; just enough to keep us guessing. We’re probably not meant to solve it, but isn’t it worth considering? What if we find clues that help us heal faster; like putting aloe on a cut, getting EMDR, learning to meditate, realizing you’re an introvert and small talk actually sucks the life of you. What if we find a clue that helps us understand why we’re all here and we find out it has nothing to do with presidents, sports, front lawns, Fulfillment Centers or accidental cleavage selfies.
The good news is, despite repeated patterns of traumatic abominations throughout human history so many of us, by continually doing the best we can in spite of genocide, colonization, rapes, slavery, systemic oppression or chapped lips, are living proof.

Here’s the research that inspired this post:

http://dana.org/Briefing_Papers/The_Neurobiology_of_Resilience/

ps: Hi! My head was going to explode if I didn’t write this. Thankfully I had a minute because our hot water heater died this morning forcing me to shower at the gym. I’m excited to shower tonight at home with our new tank. Apparently ours was from the 70’s. I’m ready for the revolution.

The egg is acrylic and watercolor on paper. It doesn’t have a name yet.

17 thoughts on “Proof

  1. If I may stick my head out about the artwork. Please disregard anything you don’t agree with! The colour and the shape reminds me of a dream another artist, Irene Rice Perreira had. She wrote a book called The Lapis which discussed her dreams of The Philosopher’s Stone. I searched for it online but perhaps it’s either still copyrighted or else the free download sites like Project Gutenberg https://www.gutenberg.org/ and https://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu haven’t gotten round to transcribing it yet. It was published in 1957 so it should be available. I have a book here called Voices of Women Artists, bringing back into the fold female artists who have been written out of, or who have been undervalued in art history. The dream was an oval shape of lapis lazuli lying flat on an island which was surrounded by water. Your opening sentence mentioning the cosmic garden got me to her in the first place.

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  2. I was really happy to read this! I find that the fabric I wear becomes soiled and torn, after awhile. When I think of it, I strip it off. The old gets reabsorbed into the mathematics of the Universe, becoming something else. We wear endless layers, for warmth and protection. You’re opening up a lot of thoughts, for me, as usual.

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    • No surprise this piece would speak to you. I think I linked the research article that sparked my inspiration. I too am fascinated by everything that gets “reabsorbed into the mathematics of the universe”. Love that!

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  3. Read the article.

    Disclaimer: Please be patient with my naivety. Feel free to educate me. I’m mostly in my mind and don’t have any practical experience.

    I wonder what the original purpose of the sensitivity trait was. Why is it even a part of creatures’ societies?

    Is the susceptibility to stress an evolutional throwback? Or. I wonder if elements of sensitivity are a development to advance species to a more peaceful coexistence.

    In either case, it almost seems as though the specific traits of sensitivity are almost a litmus of a quality of societies… look at the rampancy of anxiety and depression in our world today! That, IMO, is a symptom of our human world, first.

    Reading on, “…before they got better, they got worse…” This is me every time I start an exercise program. Knowing it, I can adjust my workouts to ease into it, so that I don’t halt my progress with progress. There have been great efforts to make things for even and fair for society. I used to think that things had improved, but they are back as strong as ever. But if people keep pursuing improvement, it may win out over falling back… maybe.

    Interesting article, in a big way! Across the board education is my thought. This would be separate from individual treatment and would include support networks for behavioral outlets, including bullying and the like as well as the suffering (and everyone else), starting early – early, kindergarten and preschool. Also, a “neighborhood watch” for challenging behaviors. Again, sooner and later. Connecting and building a loving space for those who need venues to express themselves is maybe something missing in our general society.

    (My soapbox moment) Everything is so money centered. I read this morning that the country’s founders didn’t intend that we have concentrations of money here. I agree. By focusing on spending, we lose track of our people, and inevitably fail in the intent of democracy, if we haven’t already.

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    • Good morning. Moping took longer than I planned. 😉 ok. Mutual patience granted since I’m not a neurobiologist either.
      You ask such great questions regarding sensitivity. I guess it first depends on the definition. Are you saying sensitive as in susceptibility to stress or sensitivity, like caring? I guess it could mean both?
      There’s a great documentary called I Am which you can probably find on YouTube. It’s all about the biology of compassion, how we’re created to care about each other on a cellular level and how those cells ‘speak’ to the cells of every other living thing. I’m sure many hardcore scientists would call this woo-woo or soft science but the more we study the brain and the biology of trauma the more of this woo-woo we discover is actual fact.
      With regard to sensitivity as susceptibility to stress, Brand I don’t know! That’s the X factor question. Why are some of just grittier than others? Why weren’t built like machines who could take a school bully beating and move on without feeling a thing? I guess because going through life like a robot would mean missing out on the absolute essence of the human experience; to think, feel, choose, grow or not. I think we’re sensitive, across a spectrum of hardy to tender, to remind us we’re alive.
      I would agree with your point about societal litmus tests; an evolved society is full of compassion and designed so that every member has the opportunity to experience the right balance of challenge, support and opportunity to thrive. Industrialized societies are built solely on exploitation which is why health disparities, anxiety, depression, like you said, all continue to grow.
      Interesting about the mice given drugs getting worse before they get better. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was because the drugs are forcing them into a state in which they didn’t choose. But then when you shared your experience about exercising it makes me wonder: is threshold discomfort a fundamental part of growth?
      One question about your exercise efforts: how do you talk to yourself about exercise? Are you scolding yourself? Encouraging yourself? Cheerleading yourself?
      I like your ideas about societal education. It’s the key. I’m finding hope in trauma-informed care and how it’s shifting education and all human services. Attuning people to the root of all behavior.
      Your last sentence is a mouthful. By focusing on spending we lose track of people. Imagine if we treated each other as having more value than money?

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      • I think I may have seen that documentary, but I’ll refresh myself. I appreciate science. But it’s a very strict way of explaining things that are ultimately beyond our comprehension. I’ve heard that even roots of neighboring trees in the forest are not only aware of but communicate with each other.

        Sensitivity. I wonder if bullying is a response to heightened sensitivities, like depression and anxiety, but manifesting in a different channel. Kids that get pushed or overwhelmed by circumstances might just lash out rather than lash in.

        I’m glad you brought up trauma. Apparently there were studies where electrodes measured the brain patterns of a rat in a maze, of all places, and again measured patterns during sleep.

        It showed that the rat ran the exact same maze in its sleep as it had been trained to during the day. The neuron activity matched!

        It made me wonder about having traumatic dreams as a potential culprit to the underlying blanket of human anxieties.

        On exercise, I don’t believe in New Years resolutions, but I do believe in resolutions. In some ways, deciding to get back into shape is like deciding to quit smoking (which I did almost thirty years ago, and still miss it). I knew I had to do it for a long stretch of time, and waited for the moment of resolve, knowing that I needed to be deliberate.

        Scolding doesn’t help. I need my total self respect to get it done right. I also know my body, from starting different types of exercise at different points of my life. If I start too heartily, I risk strains and injuries that often derail the process. My motivation is simply continuing as a mobile human, to enjoy some of my favorite activities, walking in the woods, or backpacking.

        When I’ve been in worse shape, a few years ago, I would get injuries by just sitting too much at my desk, unable to move my head, or sprawled out in bed for a few days. Sitting injuries, go figure!

        Do you think that there are any opportunities to introduce a complete and healthy community in a world like this?

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      • I’ve heard about trees communicating too. Sorry for the delay. Yesterday was a writing day.
        Sensitivity or resilience or ego strength as I understand it, is connected to our perceptions and interpretations of what’s scary. It’s a survival reflex. How scared one person is vs the next an why is a mystery, I guess?
        That rat study makes so much sense and it makes me sad, both for the rats and my own endless dreams of bad memories.
        Congrats on quitting smoking and finding the resolve to workout. Scolding indeed, doesn’t help. Sounds like you found the secret: total self respect and wanting to give yourself a good quality of life. Good motivation.
        As for opportunities for world peace, yes and the blueprint is called trauma-informed-care. Specifically The Sanctuary Model. I’ll have to talk more about it at some point but for now it’s time to finish my cardio. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, as always.

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