New(t) Inspiration

I’ve been worried about the newt.

My feeding strategy has not appealed to him. With a fork, I scoop up some worms. I put the fork into the water. The worms hang at the surface and then gradually slip off the fork towards the bottom of the tank.

The newt has just stood on his hind legs, bending a bit backwards, peering at the worms. Why has he angled his body so as to miss most of the food as it falls? One of his eyes is a bit filmy; is his depth perception compromised? Or is the refraction of light confusing us both?

Today he reached out very gently with two of his tiny fingers and felt the fork.

Next he aimed himself perfectly beneath the fork, pulled off a few worms, and ate hungrily. Three times!

That’s why he has been bending back. To get a good visual fix on the fork. Once he understood what the fork was, he used it just right.

He used his grounding sense: touch.

The newt’s learning experience was a powerful learning experience for me as well.

It must be a metaphor for something.

The newt’s grounding sense is touch. For me, it’s…well, I don’t know. At least I don’t know anymore.

I’ve been observing my mind’s response to the exhaustion my illness brings.

I’m used to being a fast processor of ideas and information, considering many possible outcomes quickly. Of course I make mistakes, but few of these are caused by “not thinking things through.”

For some months, however, I have not thought well. Information that I need does not surface. I feel as though my mind is a glassy lake, showing me only what I can already see. I wait at the shore, hoping something will float up and break the surface. But even when an idea shows itself, I don’t always have the cognitive tools to recognize it as an answer to a question I have asked.

Sometimes I don’t have a fork to bring the food to my hungry mouth. Other times I have a fork, but I am not sure how to use it to make connections.

I have a deep kinship with the newt.

And, fortunately, like the newt, I am gaining strength, clarity, and courage. More recently, I have more good days. Ideas connect, vague memories seem more substantial. I am not just a lake creature yearning for a fork – or a terrarium creature waiting for information to ground my perceptions.

For a few hours each day, I see exactly where the worms are and I grab them.

Then I get tired again.

But now I know the shape of the fork better. I can watch the information delivery system, and I know that when I get tired it’s no use pushing on.

And I’m grateful for every bit of progress I make!

In my world view, every significant experience is a metaphor for something. Something catches my attention, and I learn from it. Not just about that thing, but a wider lesson.

That’s how life works. Or at least, that’s how my mind works, when it’s working. It’s sort of like the old search engine “Webcrawler.” Every idea and experience reaches out to connect with another one, so that I can figure everything out.

This is how “signs” work, I think. There’s a reason something unusual catches your attention. You notice it because it has the potential to lead you to insight. Your less than conscious mind selects for you.

But, again, there are good days and bad days.

And some days, like the newt, I just wait.

Images: (1) jordansinitiative.com, (2) fishkeeper-classifieds.co.uk

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