Gray matter, no matter

These hours between school or work and bedtime are the most precious to me. They are when I see my husband; when we prepare and eat dinner together; and when I get a few scant hours of course reading in before I have to head off to bed. So I'll be brief here.

I have spent more hours than not lately studying my neuroscience textbook and pushing all other responsibilities out of the way. I have memorized the parts of the brain, figured out action potentials and neurotransmitters, and charted the effects of drugs on the body. The last two Saturdays I have spent cooped up in our apartment, a mug of tea in hand and Bach on the stereo, examining neuroanatomy slides and repeating, to myself, the names of ventricles and nuclei and tracts over and over again. Even though I feel tied to my chair, forced unnaturally to be studying on a weekend, I love the material. I love the sense of awe that I feel at understanding the origin of our thoughts and feelings, and the amazement at thinking that, some day, I could understand this field as well as I understand Spanish literature or cooking.

Behind my appreciation for neuroscience, I feel a sense of spiritual mooring. The body is our home, after all, and studying the brain makes me feel very close to my origins. I trace its contours and think this is me. Yes, this mass of spongy matter, this curving and branching and spliced, turned, fluid thing. This map to our center, this gray labyrinth of desire, this one mortal coil: you, and I, and all the rest.

How deep our science goes!

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