Discovering the Moon – the atypical brain
When I was eleven years old, living in Albuquerque, NM, I witnessed a total eclipse of the moon. Let me preface this by saying, the sky in New Mexico is different than anywhere else I’ve been. There is something that goes beyond its cluster of fine qualities; more than just being bluer, having more stars, and a richer palate from which to color its sunsets. It is a sky that inspires art. Nowhere, in my opinion, is there a more perfect place for viewing the moon.
The eclipse occurred just after the full moon rose above the horizon in the eastern sky. The spectacle was framed perfectly by our front door. I stood in the doorway and watched it from beginning to end. It was fascinating. The shadow slid over the moon as slowly as the minute hand moves on a giant clock.
The second that it snapped into place – shadow covering the entire surface – the moon suddenly transformed from two dimensions into a sphere, huge and real and tethered just above the horizon. Every crater, every mountain suddenly sharpened. I felt the change viscerally. I was transported to a new dimension of sight and understanding. The moon moved in my mind from a white paper cutout to a living reality. It was as though I fell in love. Since then, whenever I see the moon, it feels like a visitation from the cosmos.
But I tell this story, not to explain that I am a lunatic, but to illuminate the power of that moment of change. There is nothing more pleasurable than that feeling I get when information clicks in my mind and transforms a simple black and white idea that I took for granted into the Technicolor of real possibility, brimming with nuance and complexity.
I live for that feeling.
And that, I believe, is a by-product of the atypical brain.
It is pure unself-conscious wonder that makes someone like me sit for hours peering beyond the glass of an ant farm (or whatever the current object of my intellectual desire). Once, there was just a hole in the ground where the ants go, but then you discover there is an entire subterranean metropolis. Your brain warms and glows as your eye traces tunnels and chambers, and your mind sees hierarchy and process. You check out every book the library owns on the subject of ants. Did you know cutter ants farm their own food? You sit patiently listening to normal people talk about normal things just waiting for your opportunity to spew forth the fascinating information you have about ants. And after you have put in your time and you feel you have earned the right to open your mouth and dazzle the world with your insight…you discover nobody gives a shit about ants.
Discovery is the single most pleasurable experience I know.
People, no matter how much I love them and need them, tend to pale in their
ability to make me happy. That might make a compelling explanation for why I
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