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you can send all my letters of recommendation to santa claus

February 16, 2009

I was thinking last night as I was driving up to Bellingham that I want to write a story about the inevitability of decisions. The title would be, “Did You Know This Would Happen?” and the story would be about how you make up your mind about what you are going to do instantly and then all the hemming and hawing and talking to your friends about what you should do is really just something to kill time while you’re waiting to do what you decided three days ago in an instant. It’s not inevitable like death, but more like eating that last ice cream bar or kissing your ex-boyfriend, you have control, but it’s gonna take too much effort to wield.


Maybe we could save a lot of time by just listening to what we already know is true. There are so many signals, that our brains pick up on subconsciously, and if we just paid attention we might improve our sight. I participated in a psychological experiment as a junior in college where the subject was asked to sit in front of a computer while words flashed on the screen. The task was to say the word out loud as soon as you saw it. The hard part was that it was so fast that you couldn’t see the letters only a millisecond of light before the screen was black again. The experimenter sat behind you, and said, “Go.” Suddenly, there you were feeling like an idiot because you didn’t know what to say, you couldn’t even see the words, and you’re starting to get that panicky feeling like you’re just going to have to tell them that you can’t do this experiment, but the grad student says to you very gently, “Just humor me, and say the word that you think it was,” and there’s another flash, and you find yourself saying timidly, “Caterpillar?” “Good,” she says, and soon the words are bubbling up out of the depths of your synapses basketball, pineapple, and you don’t know where they’re coming from, but they’re miraculously right. You’re brain is quicker than the trip from your eyes to your occipital lobe and as soon as you let go of seeing you are no longer blind. There are people sightless from birth who duck when a ball is thrown at their face. They can’t see the ball, but they do.


If we could just sit quietly inside ourselves for a minute we might not have to work so hard to learn what we already know.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 18, 2009 12:04 am

    spherical and stainless

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