the garden, II – this time, it’s neural

Jill Bolte Taylor’sStroke of Insight showed up on my library’s list of downloadable audiobooks, so at last I got the whole story, not just the TED talk.

The title of the last chapter is “Tending the Garden.” It resonated so precisely with my own garden metaphor that I just had to share it with ya’ll. She particularly describes the role of individual differences in the initial state of each person’s mind-garden:

I view the garden in my mind as a sacred patch of cosmic real estate that the universe has entrusted me to tend over the years of my lifetime. As an independent agent, I and I alone, in conjunction with the molecular genius of my DNA and the environmental factors I am exposed to, will decorate this space within my cranium. In the early years, I may have minimal input into what circuits grow inside my brain because I am the product of the dirt and seeds I have inherited. But to our good fortune, the genius of our DNA is not a dictator, and thanks to our neurons’ plasticity, the power of thought, and the wonders of modern medicine, very few outcomes are absolute.

Regardless of the garden I have inherited, once I consciously take over the responsibility of tending my mind, I choose to nurture those circuits that I want to grow, and consciously prune back those circuits I prefer to live without.

Although it is easier for me to nip a weed when it is just a sprouting bud, with determination and perserverence even the gnarliest of vines, when deprived of fuel, will eventually lose its strength and fall to the side.

Right on.