January 8

Two winter days of warm sunny afternoons sitting on the beach and studying the ocean colors of blue while wrapping up my reading of McGilchrist and moving on to Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I have much more to say about McGilchrist and how he has helped me to recognize a hidden universe that I knew was there all along, but did not realize how close it all was to me, in fact that I was packing it around inside of my skull. I have purchased a hard copy of the book, so that I can mark it up with highlighters, paper stickies, and the like, as I have done with several other books I keep close by for writing inspiration.

The peripheral neuropathy that I fight for years seems to be abating. Even if it never goes away, I will be pleased if I can walk with a normal gait and without the fear of tripping every moment and falling flat on my face. There are some forest trails near my house that I am anxious to revisit, to get a deeper drink of nature. The neuropathy may have been caused by drinking alcohol these many years, so I stopped doing that. I changed my blood pressures medicines from Lisinopril and Attenolol to a new one called Amlopidine, primarily because the Lisinopril seemed to not be doing any good, and it turns out that it can contribute to neuropathy. I have upped my goal of swimming from 750 yards per session (30 lengths of the 25-yard pool), to 1300 yards (52 lengths). Cutting back on the intake of meat, wheat, sugar and salt is part of my new game plan for the neuropathy as well. And, finally, taking a bunch of expensive B vitamins twice a day and bathing my feet with my electronic Nerve Rebuilder takes much of the numbness out of my legs and feet.

I have been giving Johann Sebastian Bach a heavy listen in the evenings, trying to familiarize myself with the feel of the music. As McGilchrist says, there is so much more about music than rhythm, and yet rhythm is all I really know. It is hard for me to gauge what is missing from my experience. I mostly allow my mind to listen, without engaging in other activities, so that the music has a chance to settle deep into my consciousness, rather than falling into some lower unknown level. From what I have experienced so far of Bach, I hear strong feelings, especially when there is choral or vocal sound. All the sense of sound is elevated, building and falling and intermixing. I am not skilled enough, or informed enough, to know much more than this, but even with all the jazz I have listened to in my life I only know what I hear, what I perceive, and could never write much commentary on the musical arts, other than that I like or that I don’t like a particular style of music.

I remember once buying a music album, a CD, that was acclaimed to be technically brilliant, but was very left-brain and not really very pretty in composition. As a matter of fact, the music was terrible, but I had believed what I had read and was trying to “listen into it” a quality that simply was not there. I took it to a friend’s house, who listens much to music, and he told me to stop playing it because it was so ugly to his ears. And so I stopped. And I learned that day that most of us just want to hear some basic rhythm and harmony. I felt no need to go back and explore any sort of technical or new age music after that, music that I had to think about rather than listen to and enjoy. So it is with Bach. I really don’t want to be told how or why to enjoy Bach, but rather to experience him on my own terms, the way most all art should be experienced, whether music, literature or painting. If it needs explanation, there is something left-brain about it that is meant to elude life, imagination, and creativity.

Common sense is left and right brains working well together. When out of kilter we have no sense, or badly distorted sense, as in lifelessness or mental illness. I have so much to learn. I think I was born with common sense and western civilization has been working to take it away from me.

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