Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful for the wilderness of minds
What makes teaching so interesting is that every year I have 60+ new human beings to get to know, try to relate to and understand, and teach.

That's a tall order. Getting to understand my own mind and how it works is hard enough, and I still don't fully know and understand my wife of 23 years, my teenage children or my own parents. Nor will I ever. A human mind is like a vast wilderness, a world in and of itself, only more than that, because it's always changing--the product of unimaginably complex networks of neurons interacting with tangled histories, genetics, environments and other minds.

And yet we humans are more alike than we are different. There seem to be common rules that govern the way our amazing minds work. We all have similar dreams and desires and, I think, similar sources of motivation and happiness. But science has really only given us a hint of these common rules at this point.

And that's the challenge, not only do we have only a fuzzy idea of the basic rules, every mind is uniquely nuanced and quirky. The result is like exploring a vast wilderness of minds, sometimes climbing mountains and negotiating precipitous crags, sometimes taking in mind-blowing vistas, feeling refreshing wind on your face, drawing sustenance from the land, and diving into crisp, clear pools. But it's more than that, because this vast wilderness is made of people, every one unique and beautiful, interesting, and powerful in their own way.

It's either scary and stressful (if you're focused on yourself) or exhilarating and fulfilling (if you're focused on others).

Today I'm thankful for all of the people in my life, the challenges they present and the beauty they represent, the interesting perspectives they provide and the support they give.

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