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The Beauty of the Brain (More Than You’ll Ever Know)

Last night I was reading Alice Sebold’s The Lonely Bones when at the close of the chapter the bereaving sister was asked:

“Do you miss Susie?”

She answered, “More than you’ll ever know.”

At that moment it occurred to me that this truism, the certainty with which one can say that others can never fully understand how we feel, what motivates us, the quirks that prime and feed our predilections and penchants, as well as our sometimes seemingly strange behavior—is what makes the brain so beautiful.

For it is the underlying cognitive idiosyncrasy that not only differentiates every individual from every other, but it is one of the reasons why we will always be beguiled by the cerebral enigma as a whole.

Moreover, it is this very mystery of the mind that intrigues us to dig in deeper, to find out “Why?,” to comprehend what is ultimately—incomprehensible.

If we accept that “knowledge,” the sum of what is known—cognizance—encompasses more than just widely accepted “facts;” if we expand the meaning a little so that it includes individual “awareness,” what is consciousness essentially and include the intuitive or spiritual elements that have traditionally been attributed to “gnosis” for good measure—then I feel it is fair to conclude that knowledge is really everything that occurs within the context of the various cortexes of each individual mind—every surreal dream, every attempt to “unwind” after another stressful day, every wayward thought, every flash fantasy arising when embattled by ennui, every notion, idea, epiphany, realization, insight, and sparkling spurt of the imagination; every magic moment of inspiration and every push of persevering motivation. It is only with this exponential expansion of what knowledge is that we might truly understand how true it is that “ignorance is bliss,” as well as beautiful, and it is then that we might realize why the mind will forever remain a puzzle of a trillion tiny pieces—with a million of them missing in the end.

And I will add, that this is why we will always need more cognitive scientists, more psychologists and therapists and psychiatrists, more neurobiologists, brain surgeons, and Tibetan cartographers of the human genome; an perhaps, most importantly in my case—more writers.

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