Category Archives: Poetry

Regret, Social Standing, and Loss

I’ve read that brain imaging studies show that when we think about other people, parts of our frontal cortex become active. Advocates of the social brain hypothesis say the frontal cortex expanded in our ancestors because natural selection favored social intelligence. I suppose social media continues that trend.

Research also suggests that before we risk something, we need to feel assured that our potential gain is twice the possible loss, as loss feels twice as bad as gain feels good. So we have a greater sensitivity to losses than to equivalent gains when making decisions. In trading situations, we will most likely opt to keep what we have because we place a larger value on things that we already possess.

And we will make many of these decisions in light of social standing.

I’ve heard that when people are asked if they would rather earn $50,000 a year while other people make $25,000, or earn $100,000 a year while other people receive $250,000, the majority of us choose the 50k. We would rather make twice as much as others even if it means earning half as much as we might otherwise. Social standing trumps simple economics.

Does this suggest anything about my regrets, which the dictionary defines as “thinking and feeling with a sense of loss.”

If my losses feel twice as bad as my gains, then perhaps I feel my regrets more keenly than my victories…

 

I would have triumphed,

Had but to try,

Only,

          I was so afraid of failure.

And in this fear, hesitation won,

          Though so briefly.

And now, the results of that barest pause,

They resonate with me yet.

No conquest has silenced the pain of that loss,

No prize has tamed its gnawing.

And the regrets of that long ago moment

Continue their taint  of my victories today…

 

Til we see Awe

I would you awe…

Not the tiny, nor small,

Nor restless profane,

Not the mundane that soul saps

The spirit to blister and crack in sorrow.

I would your eyes rise from that endless void

That levels the heights even as it fills the valleys.

If there be exaltation,

If there be wonder,

If there be yearnings that spring from our souls,

Let them be sublime in their seeking,

Believe in their knowing,

Secure in their journey

And awash in their wonder

Till heaven and earth are one…

To Push Back the Darkness

We strive so hard to share. From a technological standpoint, one thread of our cumulative history as a species has been our growing ability to communicate – more information, faster dissemination, ever larger audiences.

Threaded throughout this whole, our logic and emotions weave from the dual hemispheres of our left and right brains a warp and weft of fact and fiction that create those tapestries we want others around us to see.

And after all these cultural millennia, we still best understand these efforts through the structure of narrative. Our storytelling still resonates our shared bonding around smoky campfires pushing back the threatening darkness around us…and existential loneliness within.

And so we share. More. Faster. Broader. Hope and fear equally driving our ebb and flow.

At the end of the day, as shadows lengthen and campfires are lit once again to drive away the dark terrors of night and soul, connection still remains a wonder and a mystery, a flicker of light in the darkness… a beacon of hope,

Our yearning,

Our goal.

Interpreting the World is Seeing the World

Continuing today’s philosophical musings –

“Study reveals individual neurons in the human brain are triggered by the subject’s conscious perception, rather than by the visual stimulus.” (Redorbit).

Through the examination of morphed faces, researchers concluded that only in the act of recognition did neurons actually fire. Subjective perception rather than objective visual stimulus caused the firing.

Professor Rodrigo Quiroga at the University of Leicester then went on to say, “In a sense, the interpretation of this result goes way back to British Empiricism and even to Aristotle. As Aristotle put it, we create images of the external world and use these images rather than the sensory stimulus itself for our thoughts. These neurons encode exactly that.”

Subjective perception… and the power of worldview and our mental models of the world around us.

Ever so subtly the chains that bind

Wrap us in their siren embrace.

And though I see you,

I see you as I see you –
Not as you really are… and rarely your true face.

Dreams they Stack as Prayers

Dreams may rise,

Ethereal as smoke they rise.

They neither scatter nor dissipate,

Nor constrain through rigid form,

But stack, instead, one upon another

Our yearnings toward heaven.

Rarely wall-solid,

Seldom sensible in appearance or use,

They remain precarious in balance, and

They rise.

Fleeting structures,

Half glimpsed longings,

Urgent desires of our nighttime,

Rich compass of our days.

One rainy night…


Dark mist rising,

Drum beneath a keening sky –

This scent of loam, of leaf, of yearning,

   Of memory’s wail

   And piacular’s cry…

This fragment of verse sprang from a rainy summer evening full of smells, sounds and dark, misty half-glimpses into the surrounding forest. Peering out through shadowy trees, I could have been sitting around a campfire with my Neolithic kin so many thousands of years ago.

The mood became a pensive, quiet centering that gradually gave rise to what I can only think of as one stream of those ancient, primal feelings that seem to lie hidden beneath daytime’s logical, civilized veneer.
Continue reading One rainy night…