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  • Writer's pictureKarly Michelle

What my brain learns, my toes need to feel

Embodied research

I feel like I spent a significant proportion of the afternoon with my head in my hands as I try to think through the theories, thoughts and ideas that are swimming around my brain. It's kind of like doing one of those very intense join the dots that go into the thousands and, eventually, reveal a portrait of a famous person. It's like I am sitting there desperately trying to find the next number and assuming that if I can just find it then everything will become clearer. In reality even if or when I find the next number and join that small section of dots, I imagine it won't actually be that much clearer because it takes until nearly all the dots have been joined before the picture finally becomes clear and stops looking like a jumble of random dots and lines.

It's the feeling of 'I should be able to think my way out of this problem'. I often feel that if I just spend enough time thinking then I could work out the right approach, find a new angle, or discover the best answer to my problem. If I can just turn this corner everything will be clear. If I just spend enough time thinking it will become obvious. Sometimes this might be helpful when there are options to be wayed and choices considered, but sometimes the answer isn't something that you can actually do anything about. It might require others to do something they don't want to, or requires something that you don't actually have access to. Sometimes there is just not a simple answer. And sometimes, most annoyingly, the ‘answer’ simply is time.

By the end of the afternoon today though, I have decided that it is that my body requires more time for everything to filter down to it from my brain; as though for me to understand something, I have to feel it.

Like when you pour sand into a bucket of rocks, some of the sand might fall down to the bottom immediately but often you need to shake the container to gently knock the sand further down between the stones so that you can keep pouring the sand in the top and fill it up properly. It’s like I need time for the information and ideas to filter down to my toes before I can truly understand and then (hopefully!) make the connections that need to be made. What is truly annoying is how much time this appears to require. Why does it take my toes so much longer to understand what my brain has heard? As a graduate student who is currently in the preliminary research phase what I am doing is reading - a lot of reading - and so the potentially new, or newly connected ideas and information is immense. It’s also a process that I haven’t practised in a little while so I’m still finding my stride again. I realise all this and in many ways I intellectually understand – it's a process that just has to happen, and it is one that I am working through.

I just wish though, that my toes would catch up with my brain because I don't seem to be able to actually and truly understand anything unless my body feels it also.


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