Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight


Monday, July 20, 2015


I killed a lot of fish today
Waist-deep in the river
Leaning into the current, reeling
Them in and netting them
From the glacial water. Then grasping
Their slick silver bodies in my hands, feeling
Each flash and flip, electric almost
In their will to live.
Watching them rise to the surface
At the end of my line
That sweet silver tail-dance that brings
The fish to me
Or me to the fish
It's hard to say, my heart
Swooping like an eagle to the catch.
But when finally the fish
Is in my hands and it's time
To make the kill
There is a pause.
A prayer.
Just a moment--thank you.
And, I'm sorry.
But not sorry enough to let you go.

KB ©7/2015

Love? Alaska My Sky.

Wolf, said the zookeeper, I have opened your cage. Why do you keep walking in circles?

Because I know what is good for me but I don't want that. Because I know what I should do but I don't. Because my heart beats an unconquered rhythm that leads me down dark pathways--through the valley of the shadow. Yea though I walk. I will fear no evil.

But I do fear. I get right up against the thing that I desire; I get so close, I touch it, and then I shy away. I do the opposite of what I want, which is to grab ahold, wrap my arms around a warm, real, solid love and never let go.

I was never very good at easy love; always preferred the difficult one, the barbed-wire fence one, the one that grabbed me by the bones and wouldn't relent. But then is it any wonder, considering where I grew up? I look out on this vast place, this snow-capped summerland, with its relentless daylight and unforgiving dark. The temperatures here range from 100 degrees in summer to negative 60 in winter; you can die of exposure either way. People go mad here more frequently, per capita, than in any other state. We will tell you that with a bit of a bragging tone, as if our madness is a crown; a crooked crown we have to keep pushing back from our foreheads lest it gouge out our eyes.

This place reared me up, she helped shape me into what I am, she still dictates, albeit in a whisper now, my expectations of life and love. I was forever climbing her trees as a kid, my skinny butt wedged between branch and trunk, hands covered in sap, straining as high as I could to reach the sky. Oh, that sky--wide, merciless blue all summerlong, sun up till midnight, or else heavy with rain for days on end; and then dark, full dark, for nineteen hours at a time in the winter. That sky was the wheel on which my moods turned. Constant, captivating, inescapable sky. Its endless light, or endless night, drowns all sense of time; and without time, without circadian rhythm, we go mad.

And now love is my sky. I have learned, over the years, not to take it personally; or so I think I have learned. Love does what it does, and people do what they do, without meaning to hurt me. This place will drive you mad or kill you without a thought, because how can the sky have a thought? And what sort of narcissist would you have to be, to imagine that it stops its endless circling around the earth, to poke a cruel finger into your sensitive, shrinking belly? So it is with love. You bask and stretch beneath its warm, soft sun, or you seek cover from its furious storms, or you groan away the dark years: it is all one and the same. The sky is still there and it is still the sky. Hard love and easy love dwell side by side beneath it and I go back and forth between the huts.

And that is the way love goes, did go, for me all these years. Little dwellings in the vastness, stopping-places where I met up with the Other, for a short time. Oh that tantalizing Other! I chased him endlessly, in giddy circles that looped smaller and smaller, until I came face-to-face with my own self. What a trip that was--a hall of mirrors, everywhere I turned a version of myself, each one less and less lovely, and like a wolf in a trap I chewed and chewed to get free. No room in the house of love for me now, I thought; hard or easy, I'm on the outside, just me out here, lone, and what should have felt like freedom felt like the deepest form of psychotic sadness.

So I left. I chewed myself apart, and left home. And wouldn't you know it? I ran smack into a wall of solid love. Warm and real. Cantankerous and caring. Bright, human, heavy, solid love that stopped me as surely as if it'd grabbed me by the scruff and yanked me off my feet. Which it did. And this time I'm doing the thing I most want to do: grabbing it right back. Because fear is a shitty way to live and this time, love wins.

Because I know what is good for me and I do want that. Because I know what I should do and I'm doing it. Because my heart beats out an unconquered rhythm that led me to here: out here, under love's sky, where there is a home for me, and it is vast, and uncharted, and it has no walls and no roof but it has a thousand rooms, and in many of them I am not alone.

KB 10/2015

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let Your Lover Go

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.
--Rainer Maria Rilke

Let your lover go
For everything you think you know
There are a thousand things more
You haven't yet imagined
He is the secret roots of trees
And the dark earth in which they grow
He is the light of the sun
Playing through the leaves--
Let your lover go.

Let your lover breathe
Wide as the sky she is, and free
As the storms that fly across it
She falls to earth like rain and rises
Again with the heat of the sun
For everything you think you've seen
She still comes to you in mystical ways
And blankets your nights with stars--
Let your lover breathe.

Sing your lover home
If you are willing to learn the song
That conjures their heart to your side
Build a sanctuary, that they might kneel
With open walls and a roof of clouds
On the side of a mountain next to the sea
Place your heart there and let its tricky beat
Be the rhythm they feel in their bones--
Sing your lover home.

KB ©7/2015