Reptile Dysfunction

It’s the “Lizard Brain”!

     The amygdala…a small almond shaped portion of the brain that has been eclipsed in size by the cerebrum, but not eclipsed in the influence that it can have on our actions.  It’s called “the lizard brain” because it’s all a lizard has.  No reasoning power, no goals other than survival…Fight, flight, eat, procreate.

(BTW, further research on the anatomy of the brain was over my head!)

     It’s the part of our brain that screams out, “What if you’re wrong?!”… “That idea is no good!”…What if you’re laughed at?”… “What if nobody likes you?”… “How will you survive that?!”…  “What if you’re in an accident and you don’t have on clean underwear?”…..

Oh, wait….that last one is from a MOTHER’s brain….well, sometimes the two can be confused, they both just want to protect us…

(No offense to Mother’s!!!)

     I came across the term ‘lizard brain’ through my readings of Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield (both of whom I have referenced previously)…

The fear…the resistance…the king of ‘sane’…the ‘protector’…

It’s the thing that keeps art, genius and production in its  ‘proper’ place, asleep, cowering in the ego.

     It’s the part of the brain that kicked in the door of my own experience recently when I was asked to perform a couple of songs at the wedding of two friends…

“You haven’t picked up a guitar in months..!”

You haven’t performed in front of people in 20 years!!!”

“There will be REAL musicians in the audience!!!”

Oh, I heard this and much, much more!

     How many times have you used a product, or listened to a song, or read a book, or viewed a piece of art and said to yourself, “I could have done that!”… or, “I SHOULD have done that!”…or, worse,

“I DID do that…It’s stuck in the back  of the closet…The LIZARD put it there!!!!!!

     You know those rubber band things that come in various shapes that became really popular with kids, and sold like gazillions?  Did a genius come up with that or just somebody who dropped a rubber band, it landed in the shape of a crescent moon, and they ACTED upon it…an idea was born?

The answer is YES

     A regular person who acted upon their flash of brilliance, their genius, and didn’t allow themselves to listen to, “That’s a stupid idea!”

They told the lizard to shut up and eat a bug!!!

I love the way Seth Godin describes art…the gift that we all have.

“Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.  The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.”

He goes on to say, “And the gift is as much for you as it is for the recipient”

That’s all of us he’s talking to.  Every day in every circumstance we are afforded the opportunity to make art…

To give a gift!

     I have also been reading The Gift, by Lewis Hyde, and it dawned on me that performing at this wedding was my gift to give and the premise of giving was fortunately able to over-ride ‘the lizard’…(Believe me, he was still thrashing around and whispering, “You’re gonna screw u-up!”)

     The ‘giving’ is what influences me to sometimes lie on the ground to take a photo from an unusual perspective when the easy way, holding the camera at eye-level,  and keeping my clothes clean would create a perfectly ‘acceptable’ image.

Does this always produce an outstanding photo?


The ‘cutting room floor’ is deep with ill-conceived ‘stretches’ from the norm.

     But, I would rather wade through a two-foot pool of out-takes than to have made no mistakes at all.  Hyde recounts the fable of the shoemaker and the elves and follows with, “…For some the work may fall into place regularly, but most of us cut out a thousand pairs of shoes before the elves begin to sew.”  It doesn’t often ‘fall into place’ for me, but I keep cutting out the leather. ..and sometimes the elves show up.

     Now the perfect way for me to end this would be to say that I gave the performance of a lifetime at this wedding…I never played the guitar  better, my voice was an inspiration to all, and the wedding couple were so astounded that they forgot their vows…. And that the lizard is now packed away, never to return.

Not so much….!

I was possibly adequate.

     I performed to the best of my limited ability .  I didn’t ‘freeze in the head lights’, and I got a chance to swallow a good dose of the part of my being, the part of EVERYONE’s being that wants to be safe and accepted….the status quo.

Most importantly was that I gave of myself…

And I don’t THINK anyone laughed at me or felt terribly embarrassed for me…

But, then again..

Before I played, I took off my glasses so that I couldn’t see or gauge anyone’s reaction, anyway.


p.s. Congratulations Lee and Lisa.  I deem it a great honor to have been included in your celebration!

p.p.s  The lizard mosaic stepping stone in the picture above was a gift from Nancy Terry…

p.p.p.s  Maybe I should turn on the TV in my hotel rooms and quit thinking so much.  What was it Moe used to say to Curly?  “Every time you think, you weaken the nation!”

~ by rkpowers on October 22, 2010.

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