25 January 2006

A State of Mind

I think that emotions make us "feel alive", even negative emotions. And feeling alive is something we look to do, because (I guess) it means we are not, um, dead. So an emotion of any sort can give us a rush - it can make us realize our self, our soul, our spirit. I look back on times in my life when I was very sad, and I note a little warm rush in my thoughts. I don't think many people want to admit this and it may be out of the mainstream of professional psychiatric thought: I may be totally off base. But think about it, honestly, and see if you agree even a little.

Emotions were on my mind today because of my morning lecture by my current Teaching Company course, Biology and Human Behavior. The professor discussed the connections between the brain's frontal cortex and the limbic system, which is "the part of the brain most centrally involved in emotion and in generation of emotionally related behavior." It interacts with the cortex, the rational part of the brain. The cortex tries to get you to do the sensible thing but does not always succeed. The current course is taught from the neuron up, quite scientific, but the themes are the same as those of the philosophers. A tug of war between what you want to do to feel good and what you think that you should do to be a sensible person and a decent member of society. It's all just a state of mind.

So I'm on the ellipticals and "state of mind" leaps out at me from my iPod. Led Zeppelin, Misty Mountain Hop:

Why don't you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see,
And baby, baby, baby, do you like it?
There you sit, sitting spare like a book on a shelf rustin'
Ah, not trying to fight it.
You really don't care if they're coming,
I know that it's all a state of mind.

If you go down in the streets today, baby, you better,
You better open your eyes.
Folk down there really don't care, really don't care,
Don't care, really don't
Which, which way the pressure lies,
So I've decided what I'm gonna do now.
So I'm packing my bags for the misty mountains
Where the spirits go now,
Over the hills where the spirits fly.

misty mtns (Blue Lake, Brainard)


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