Left or right?

Remember that scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor, who had a stroke that numbed her left brain? I suppose it is unlikely any of us will ever experience what she did but it does remind me to some extent of the comfort, the calm and the quiet we can reach in deep meditation or Shirodarahs. I always have it hard pulling myself out of that state. Coming back to the outside world often feels like coming back to a new episode of 'A Good Place', i.e. some sort of Hell disguised into Heaven as a means of torture. But however tempting staying immersed in what I will call the 'right brain' feels, however hard it is to put my 'left brain' back into action, there is always something pushing me to do it. Call it curiosity, call it hope, ultimately, I probably figure that if I did not come back to the material world, I would be missing out on something. And yet, my left brain has always been such a source of pain.

I used to be a high performer. All through lower and high school, I was first or second in class, also in gym, even a teacher’s pet. But at some point, I started losing ground. I was a Junior in one of the tougher sections of school in an already tough system, and I stopped seeing the purpose of it – the math, the science… It did not add up: my girl-friends were all in a girlier section and I was stuck hanging out with the not-so-big-on-words but big-on-jokes guys. And no one was congratulating me for it. I started lagging behind.

Then came college, which, after switching from the rigid science section to the less esteemed language one, went by like a breeze. But then I graduated, with the pressing feeling I quickly needed to figure out what to do with my life. Completely lost, with no real ambition to call my own, I ended up filling the gap with way too much: work, master studies, scholarship and university applications. I felt empty as ever, pedalling in thin air with no one to catch me.

Luckily, a well-deserved breath of fresh air swept me away when I moved to one of the most fashionable and exciting cities on this planet and started studying in one of the most nourishing programmes I had ever followed. Unluckily, it did not last very long. Too soon, the emptiness caught up with me. Academia had become too theoretical. And I found myself in a random job for all the wrong reasons: staying in the city. Before I knew it, it was not just the job but the entire city which had become hostile and irritating. I did not feel connected to anything or anyone. I started realizing I had been moving through life dangling. I was losing ground yet again.

I resolved to go back to my home country and while I was at it, reorient my job from too much paper to a bit more color. Pretty soon, the rat race got the better of me. The economic crisis was on the prowl for peripheral jobs like mine – the 'nice-to-haves' – there were burn-outs, a lot of firing, even a suicide. My management was pressuring me, my team was pressuring me. Somewhere deep down, my typical self-defense mechanism sparked into gear. Since I was feeling unappreciated, misunderstood, and lacked the cockiness to make people like me, I would make up for it the only way I knew how: with a job more than well done. I became an always bigger control freak, with a need for everything to be rigorous, organized and done with logic and efficiency. I did not realize it at the time but I think I was on a mission to build a super team. Creativity, spontaneity, empathy were out the window yet again. Emptiness. And that is when I lost ground – big time. My legs caved in. My right brain told me: stop….

And I did. The result is that today I am really not sure where I am. I have little job security and no career outlook. But I do have one thing: I am swinging differently, pushing less and combining more and getting closer to trusting myself and enjoying life. Things get ugly sometimes, not just when I feel completely overwhelmed, or when I start crying behind my computer screen, but also when I miss the inner security that came in my previous job with having been promoted to a management position in a company I had been with for years. On the other hand, my life is richer now in discoveries, ideas and initiatives. It is like the material world, the tangible reality, the visible matter, even the daily stress of menial tasks, the ego, the Maya, were becoming less of a constraint and more of an anchorage I can rely on in order to explore my overwhelmingly vivid inner world.

It remains scary and frustrating. I often feel torn between two worlds, fully present in neither, unable to engage entirely in anything, and with absolutely no idea where I am going. I still wake up some mornings with the fear of falling – endlessly – and I spend half my days feeling our existence and everything around us is surreal. Completely surreal. I can then sometimes envy the so-called left-brained engineer or the right-brained artist. Recent science would say it has little to do with being left or right-brained, and maybe so, but they still seem to have it easier, so confident that their world is the world as it is.

But then I realize there might also be wealth in finding a balance between the two. The going back and forth in my life wrecks havoc in my brain and my body. But it is also the movement that carries me forward. I cannot say it is anywhere close to appeasing me but I am learning to enjoy the open-ticketed return flights between left and right. In his introduction to The Emerging Goddess, Albert Rothenberg explains creativity is the act of connecting two previously never connected concepts. So, what if it is only in that space in between everything that life can truly take off?

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