I Was No Longer The Choreographer Of My Life

Over the years I recall getting some emails from HR which told the sad news of an employee&‘s unfortunate early demise.

For a moment I would stop what I was doing, say a silent prayer for the deceased’s family and friends and (if I’m honest), also for my own good fortune in still being of sound mind and body. And then I’d get back to work.

Yes, sometimes there might be a donation for flowers or a charity or even signing an appropriate card, but (alas) the person was in time not so much forgotten, as displaced out of mind by the work to be done. I feel some guilt in writing this even though I didn’t personally know most folks I heard about.

In my defense I could say: But I’m a busy IT engineer. I don’t have time to long remember colleagues now no longer with us.

And in a way, that would be true.

However, I want you to consider for a moment what a part of you might think (and, hint hint, internally say) if you were to wake up one morning with the growing realization that you were having having a stroke.

Yes, a stroke, where a blood clot on the brain’s left hemisphere is shutting down your ability to logically reason, to speak and to interpret the sensory experiences around you in the context of time and place (i.e. memory and cognitive self-awareness of the person you recognize yourself to be).

After some minutes you’ve got a left hemisphere which is going on and offline like a rebooting router or server (!) and a right hemisphere which is increasingly the only part of you functioning. But what a performance that creative, intuitional and visual faculty might unveil!

I can only guess at what Brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor actually experienced when she had her stroke but she does a darn good job in the following three resources of describing what happened and how it has changed her life.

First up: keep an open mind (haha!) and watch this 18 minute video clip of Jill retelling her story.

Second: listen to her fascinating June 2008 interview with Terry Gross on NPR Fresh Air:

Terry has clearly done her research and gives Jill the right openings to answer a lot of the questions I had from ploughing through often inane and puerile YouTube comments about Jill’s video. The streaming audio is forty-six minutes and highly recommended.

So, why bother with Jill’s work? Well, as motivated and inspired as I am by goal setting and personal visions and all that good stuff, I believe outdoing all of that is what my personal development hero Brian Tracy has written about goals:

Set peace of mind as your highest goal.

Seems to me that Jill has a lot to teach us about peace of mind and how our brains might be hardwired to enable it. An ability to switch in and out of what Jill calls deep inner peace circuitry would be a very valuable personal asset in an often too busy world. (Rider added: and without having to experience a debilitating stroke and 8 years of recovery)

The post title is a quotation from Jill when she was on the verge of surrendering the good fight while in hospital and expecting to die. Yet she lived! And went on to write A Stroke Of Insight.