"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."
Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.
First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
The Little Nutty Piece
My therapist sister, Ann, says she is convinced we all have a little nutty piece. Your little nutty piece can be an elephant in the room if you don’t befriend it and acknowledge it, because a little nutty piece has the power to undo your equilibrium or totally annoy your friends if you don’t admit it’s there.
I've been drawing the conclusion that quite frequently a little nutty piece in your personality is there because it helps you deal with stress. So recognizing when a little nutty piece has kicked in may actually be a warning sign of mounting stress in your life.
When I am stressed I start waking up at four in the morning. It’s not uniformly bad. Four a.m. is also when I’ve gotten some of my best ideas – like the term complex cloth, interfacing stencils, and soy wax crayons. But more often that not, waking at four a.m. is problematic. Thinking turns into a minor panic attack and I can’t go back to sleep. That’s not good when you are expected to be fresh and fulsome for a class at 8 a.m.
I’ve mastered meditational breathing as a coping mechanism for this little nutty piece. Gradually breathing deeply, and focusing on the breath, works. Nine times out of ten I go back to sleep immediately. You might try this if you share insomnia as a sign of stress with me.
Byron Katie’s ideas have also helped. One of the questions she suggests you pose when you are troubled or stressed by your thinking is this: Where would I be without that thought?
When I wake up in the night, I ask myself where I would be without the thoughts. I start deep breathing. The answer is always simple: Without the thoughts, I’d be asleep again. So I go back to sleep. Doesn’t that sound crazy? But it’s true. It’s as if my mind is a little child, easily satisfied with a simple answer to a simple question.
But then there’s that tenth time. No amount of breathing or simple questioning quells the busy thinking in my head. Last night is an example of this.
Do you remember Ode to Billy Joe? If not, click on the title and check out the song.
“It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day
I was out choppin' cotton and my brother was balin' hay
And at dinnertime we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And Mama hollered out the back door "y'all remember to wipe your feet"
And then she said "I got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge"
"Today Billy Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"
Last night Ode to Billy Joe was playing endlessly in my head. Forty years more or less, since the song was a hit for Bobbie Gentry, and I still have the entire lyric in my head.
The fourth verse goes:
And Mama said to me "Child, what's happened to your appetite?"
"I've been cookin' all morning and you haven't touched a single bite"
"That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today"
"Said he'd be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh, by the way"
"He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge"
"And she and Billy Joe was throwing somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge"
From four a.m. on, one question kept cycling in my brain:
What did “she and Billy Joe” throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge?