Thinking: the basis for faith

What is faith?

Well, let’s think about it.

I have to undergo a small surgery (nothing life-threatening) and I consult with a doctor. The doctor explains every detail to comfort me:

“I’m certified in the procedure”.

“I’ve done this a million times.”

“This is the procedure, step-by-step.”

After a while, I gather enough data that fills me with confidence in the doctor. I now trust him based on multiple sources of information. I have faith in his abilities to perform the surgery on my body.

The day I walk into the office for the surgery, I’m feeling good. I have hope that the day will end well.

Then, I walk into the surgical suite. To my horror, this is what I see: scalpels, needles, syringes, and more sharp instrumentation! They are all laid out just for me!

I begin to lose my faith. By sight, my confidence is eroded.

But, then I realize in my fear I have information I remember. I re-consider (re-think) what the doctor said about his experience, the exact procedure, and so on.

My fear is assuaged because my faith is restored by thinking, considering.


Sleep Your Life Away

Monday morning. I had a restful weekend. There was a chance to decompress and catch up on sleep. Sleep is hard to come by in this busy world we live in.

I wonder what it is like for people in remote parts of the globe. How do they sleep? Are they free from the cares and concerns that our culture in the developed world have?

Sleep, I think, is like a thermometer for a person’s peace with things. Maybe not all the time, but perhaps a lot of the problems with trying to get sleep (i.e., enough sleep or the quality of sleep) is due to the lack of peace of mind.

Anxiety–the destroyer of sleep.

How weird and mysterious that humans need so much sleep. The statistic is that we spend up to 30% of our lives unconscious. We don’t truly live all our lives experiencing everything that is possible — we miss life’s chances by sleeping through them, some might say. Let’s say you live until 70 years old. That means that you experience conscious living for 49 years.

Thinking about this stuff can keep you awake late at night just thinking about it.

Philosophy, Pipe smoking

Pipe, Smoke; Life on a Sunday Evening

A quiet Sunday afternoon, sitting in the backyard, smoking a tobacco pipe. Still new with the art of pipe smoking, struggling to keep the thing lit is a major challenge. Burning my tongue here and there. Why the effort into a potentially harmful, deadly, hobby?

I think the answer is “why do anything that does not appear to benefit my survival?”.

Well, I think my best answer tonight is that I’m curious. I want to do things to enhance my existence. I’m compelled to go out into the world and discover new things, with the condition that I do not break the law or the moral guide I have within me.

I’m driven to wonder, to ask questions. In my life, sometimes, this has caused complications and troubles that I would regret. Suffering and pain from bad choices aren’t too far from my attention. Born with a great memory, I can recall these aspects of my life all too well.

I see myself on quiet days like this as a Traveler. Metaphorically speaking, of course, I’m sitting behind the wheel of my life and I am guiding my way to the Ending. I’m not always sure what I’m doing, but I do my best.

Smoking a tobacco pipe and writing — joys of life.

Missions, Problems to Solve

The Quest for the Cure

We seek first to improve our interactions with our friends and family, and neighbors.

What are the nearest goals for helping people with SCI?

Freedom from abnormal pain: In the entire spectrum of SCI complications, the easiest (i.e., fastest) goal to reach, and a priority for so many, is to develop and apply treatment strategies for patients that will grant freedom from abnormal pain and discomfort.

Restoring natural bodily functions: The ability to control excretion is a complex orchestration of sensory-muscle function which is severely disrupted in SCI. Restoring voluntary control is a major step toward independence (see below).

A cure for paralysis: This goal has captured the imagination of the SCI community. This is the visual we have in our minds when we think about a cure. If a person with SCI can walk again, or reach for a glass of water with their hands after losing that ability, then we have moved into a new chapter.

A brief note on the above: The spinal cord and brain are the most complicated tissues in the human body. Wires run everywhere, connect with other cells using chemically-based synapses, and rely on other cell types to function normally. All of a sudden, an SCI event crushes and severs these wires. Information traveling up or down the spinal cord is cut-off or disrupted (signals don’t transmit normally).

A major challenge for SCI researchers is to understand how to get the wires to grow again, directing where they should go; and then once at their targets, they need to reconnect.

Independence: This is such a big word…. I myself don’t even know what this means. Is this just freedom from another’s help? Based on my experience and talking with people with SCI, it may simply be the ability to not need to think about their injury anymore.

Missions, Uncategorized

A Captive Dialog

Welcome! Thank you for visiting my blog.

I’m an academic neuroscientist and a freelance writer.

Details, details….

I’m married in my 30’s with a PhD in Neuroscience and a faculty member at a well-known University working in the research field of spinal cord injury and repair. My field of research specialty is in neuropathic pain. I lead experimental projects designed to uncover the medical mysteries underlying the problems of injury to the brain or spinal cord.

This blog is a collection of my daily ruminations, written in the quiet margins of life. I decided to post my writings, happy to know they are public and accessible.

In the race for the cure for SCI, there have to be pitstops. Thank you for reading!