Sunday, 28 June 2009

Walking in the mind.


There is an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London until September 6th which is called "Walking in my mind." Yesterday Kate Muir wrote about it in the Times Review. She quotes the curator of the gallery as saying, "There are millions of nerve cells in the brain and the connections between these neurons, the synapses, are made by you." As I read it, the idea behind the exhibition is that we are all so many different characters inside our heads - what people see of us is what we choose to let them see.

Doing my walk for yesterday's blog I got to thinking about this walking in the mind business in its wider sense. There seem to be so many facets to it.

My previous husband used to say that I had the habit of doing every job three times. For example, first of all I would sit and think, "I think I'll clean out my wardrobe - I'll put all my Summer outfits together in the left hand side." Then I would have a cup of coffee, read the paper, have a chat, then go upstairs and clean out the wardrobe. Later on he would hear me on the phone to a friend, saying, "I've cleaned out the wardrobe and put all my summer outfits together in the left hand side."

On a cold Winter afternoon I can sit in a chair with a photograph album on my knee - let's say one of our New England holiday - and I can walk that holiday in my mind again - perhaps taking an hour to do so - and the effect it has on me is almost as therapeutic as the holiday itself.

I can read Thesiger's "Arabian Sands" AGAIN and I can be there with him in the Empty Quarter all those years ago. What an amazing thing the mind is.

An aunt of mine, Auntie Ruth, who died many years ago, became frail and bed-fast in the final stage of an illness. When I went to see her she was only partially conscious but she smiled and told me that she had just had a tremendous walk all round the fields and lanes of Heighington, (where she lived as a child) - the way she told me about that walk I know she really thought she had been on it that morning. A couple of days later she died - not a bad way to end your life, is it?

So - my post has wandered far away from the concept of the exhibition; but then has it really because the connections between my synapses have been made by me and this is how I choose to present it to you. Surely that - in the wider sense - is what it is all about.

Where do you walk in your mind.

21 comments:

mrsnesbitt said...

Oh yes I know this regime only too well! Often if I describe what I am going to cook I feel as though I have eaten it! lol!

Heather said...

A fascinating post Weaver - much food for thought. My mind resembles the state of my workroom I'm afraid and I would love to be able to tidy it from time to time! Your Auntie Ruth must have been a wonderful lady. My lovely Dad was a bit like that and could still smile at the scent of a flower or hearing birds singing even when he was seriously ill, and loved to read good travel books even though he never had the opportunity to leave England.

Reader Wil said...

With me it used to be my holidays: first the preparations, then the holiday itself, and at last the photos and the making of a scrapbook. I enjoyed all three stages.

HelenMHunt said...

I love the new flower pictures at the top of the blog. Beautiful x

Linda Sue said...

I once had profeesor at University who tried to impress upon us the importance of "cultural and experiencial funding" to draw upon when needed- that the mind banks those memories in detail for us when we are unable to get out in the world. Maybe that is the "life flashing before you, before you die" sort of thing...our brains are undiscovered still.Amazing to have one!Love this thought provoking post and your auntie's experience.

Gramma Ann said...

Wonderful post, very thought provoking. I don't know where I walk in my mind. I guess I love to read, so I suppose you could say other people walk in my mind.

Elizabeth said...

When my mother was quite old and lived with my brother and his wife, my sister in law popped in on Mum who was sitting alone.
When asked if she was all right, Mum said she was very happy -- she was going on all the lovely holidays she had shared with Dad.
So when people say you should spend money on things that last tell them holidays are treasure we keep long after the kitchen needs re-doing......

The Solitary Walker said...

This is a great post, Pat, and a subject dear to my heart. I think we travel much further in our minds than we ever do in physical geography.

I've always taken 'walking', the ostensible subject of my blog, to be a concept far wider than merely putting one foot in front of the other. And I know my most loyal readers appreciate that.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I love reading/thinking about the mind. And I love the way yours wanders! Me, too! - C

acornmoon said...

I often go walk about in my head but until now have never like d to own up to it! When I was little girl I used to call it "having a little think".

gleaner said...

I have studied neuro-psychology for many years and it has always fascinated me. I have a pre-disposition to walking in the mind...it can get you into trouble but most of the time it is very enjoyable and like your Auntie Ruth, it can be very powerful.
Great post Weaver !

Hildred and Charles said...

That's what I like about your posts, Weaver, - they aren't JUST entertaining, - they make you think, too. For a number of years, when life was more busy and complicated, I 'mind mapped', - my daily journal was a mind map, followed by comments.

Now I think I could mind map the past and walk quite interesting and nostalgic paths.

Kim said...

I must admit to a disposition which enjoys walking in the mind and indulges often. There is nothing better then sitting and relaxing somewhere quietly and allowing the mind to wander, very refreshing. Loved your posts on the church and abbey too Pat, and being a former country girl I can smell the hay, wonderful! Think I'll wander off now for another sensory overload..LOL!

Leenie said...

Yes, "your posts are not just entertaining, they make you think"...and in a very good way.

Running away in my mind now.

Woman in a Window said...

Weaver, to the days when I was slight, down the tracks and over rivers. Even now, with fingers tucked. That's where I walk.

jeannette stgermain said...

Yes, I recognize it, I am a repeater of almost everything - I have it with writing too, saying the same thing 3 different ways!

Leilani Lee said...

One reason I enjoy visiting with elderly folk so much is that they have so many "memory walks" that they are willing to talk about. Not too good though to spend too much time ruminating about the past sometimes.

Pam said...

I encourage everyone I know to travel. Wonderful memories to look back on, and for young people, puts a lot of things in perspective."Walking in the mind"-very important tactic to alleviate boredom. I enjoyed this post Weaver, thanks!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

"For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."


I often take walks just like that. And so, obviously, did Wordsworth!

Lovely post!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for all the comments - seems like we are all "at it" - walking in the mind. Today has been a good day for doing it as it is too hot to be outside in the garden. Enjoy your mind walks everyone.

Derrick said...

Sounds like the best type of walking to me, Weaver!