I haven’t posted a blog in forever. Something about losing my grandfather last week made me want to write. But I couldn’t. Instead, I read my way through folders I found on his desk. I came across a copy of my college admission essay that he and my grandma had saved. It’s not about bugs, but it is “in the Bugible mindset,” so I’m posting it here.
I have a collection of “thought essays” like this that I’ve written over the years. I’ll gauge the receptivity to this type of post before sharing more of those on this platform.
Breathe in, breathe out. I felt my chest rising and falling, my heart beating steadily. Then her voice returned, “Clear your mind. Only listen to the sound of my voice as you sink deeper and deeper into a state of hypnosis. Your eyelids feel heavy and you feel warmth spreading throughout your body…” I concentrated. I could do this. To clear my mind I focused on my heart beat. Thump.…thump… I envisioned my heart pounding, pumping blood, spreading warmth; the oxygen-rich blood leaving my left atrium and entering my left ventricle to be pumped out via the aorta to the rest of my body. No. Now was not the time for technicalities. I needed to focus on clearing my mind again. I took some deep, cleansing breaths, but my eyelids fluttered open. I found myself staring at the serene face of my grandmother. My grandmother who was just like any other grandmother – who gave me baths in tomato juice when I had chicken pox, who taught me her secret recipe for spaghetti sauce, who, as cliché as it sounds, baked me cookies to cheer me up. But when is anything in life so simple? My grandmother was also the one who made her living as a professional psychic. I heard myself say, “I’m sorry grandma; maybe we can do a tarot card reading later?” She nodded and dejectedly exited the room.
I watched her leave, knowing that, yet again, I had disappointed her. Why could I not be hypnotized? After she left, I lit some incense and looked around the small room. I glanced over at the bookcase and duly noted the contents again: books on other psychics, meditation, and chakras; books on various religions such as Taoism, Buddhism, and Christianity; books on alternative healing and herbs. I knew them well. The covers were lovingly worn and the pages bent, all evidence of my long hours spent poring over their contents. I am unsure of what I had hoped to discover among the pages of text about a phenomenon just beyond my sphere of understanding, but that is why it intrigued me so much. The spiritual realm was something that I could not explain through the application of science; my curiosity about it could not be satisfied. But ceaseless reflection over the years unearthed another reason for my drive to learn more about my grandmother’s practice – I wanted to understand her. I grabbed a newer looking book off the shelf and read the title, something about the healing powers of gem stones. I shook my head. Could any of this be scientifically proven? I set the book aside and instead reached to my right where I previously left my calculus book. The numbers were oddly comforting. They were tangible. They did not unremittingly jeopardize the careful way the world was balanced in my mind, nor did they incessantly contradict the foundations of factuality that much of life is based on. I sighed.
When I was younger, I believed everything my grandmother told me. I wrote down all of my dreams and analyzed them for any possible interpretations, I meditated with her in the garden to find my inner-peace, I was captivated by her stories of the people she had helped using her ‘powers’. But as the years went by, my child-like innocence diminished. I became less and less receptive to all of the fantastic stories I was told, with doubt spreading through my mind like a plague. Instead of being mystified by the powers of the unknown and the human spirit, I became increasingly engrossed in the world of science. Instead of asking for books about fairies for my birthday, I asked for microscopes. My world was evolving from herbs and tarot cards to mitochondria and exothermic reactions. Not only did the whole idea of psychic powers begin to lose credibility in my mind, but the very entity of religion began to take on a creeping ambiguity as well. I felt torn between two worlds – my head was telling me not to invest such great faith in anything that science cannot prove; my heart, however, was with my grandmother.
Science had taught me the power of observation and the importance of analyzing the past. My grandmother had taught me to look to the future. I fit somewhere in the middle – in the present. I picked up the book about gem stones and set it next to the calculus book on my lap. The pressure of the two large volumes equally weighed on me. I had the yin and yang of the intellectual world, the extremely objective and uttermost subjective of texts, balancing on my legs. What a paradigm. I recognized the close-mindedness of my attempts to separate these two driving forces in my life. I should be open-minded enough to transcend such conventional and secular boundaries, for it is through the subjective that we learn more about the objective, and vice versa. As a scientist I also know the importance of balance, and my grandmother had gifted me with the perfect counterweight to my logical nature. Suddenly I realized that analytical works and spiritual theologies, these two seemingly irreconcilable doctrines, could both have a place on my lap, in my mind, in my world.
Breathe in, breathe out. I calmed myself and set aside the books. I was going to spend time with my grandmother. I walked up to her and asked, “Grandma, can we make some cookies?”