Taking The Road Less Traveled

I’m not religious in the slightest. I was raised Catholic, went to CCD and was confirmed in the Catholic church. Since going on and discovering the world for myself, I have concluded through my own questioning and observations that there is no God, at least I can’t seem to find one.

I do believe there are forces bigger than us, however. We are all “star stuff.” When you break our components down to the smallest level we are all composed of atoms. It is how those atoms are arranged which gives us the diversity and scope of all the living and non-living things in the Universe.

I am not expert in neuroscience, though the field has always interested me. The different parts of the brain and what their functions are. How the amygdala (which resides in the limbic system) and the cerebral cortex differ have come up in many of the books I have read. Within the amygdala, sometimes called the “reptilian brain,” you find it acts as the fear responder in the brain. It signals the “fight or flight” responses in the brain. It is known as the reptilian brain seeing as there are many reptiles that have only evolved their brain to such a level- they can only act on instinct and fear.

The cerebral cortex, the gray and mushy looking part that has bumps and folds, has evolved to such a level that it has given the ability for reason and logic among other things. Studies have shown that the two parts of the brain cannot operate at the same time. That is, when you are fearful, you aren’t using reason to problem solve and coincidentally, when you are in a state of logical flow you seldom experience much fear and anxiety. These modern discoveries in neuroscience have given way to a plethora of books that help uncover the mysteries of fear and how to overcome them.

If we did a little bit deeper, however, we can forge another path to understanding how our minds work and what these understandings can bring us. Within the limbic system one can find evidence of emotional connection responses. Furthermore, with this, we know that the limbic system also doesn’t have the capacity for language- language is found in the cortex region.

Have you ever taken a chance on something and couldn’t put into words why? Don’t you find it hard to find the words to explain truly why you love someone? The answer is because these feelings don’t manifest in the same region of the brain in which language is produced.

Many facets in life are about taking risk- following your gut. In today’s age, there is a heavy emphasis on analysis of systems and structured decision making. I don’t want to diminish the importance of weighing your options- whether personally, professionally or otherwise. Rather, I want to bring forth more of an uncovering in following your gut. Making decisions in life because you know they feel right. Taking leaps because you feel the reward will outweigh the risk.

I had a professor in college who is a huge influence in my life. I remember before I graduated he told me there were going to be two routes one could take in life. One was pressing the easy button. After graduation, I could move back in with my family. I could get a job that would be a precursor into a career. If I worked hard I would move up the ranks. I could then purchase and invest in a house. I could start and family. The classic route.

He said I could also press the hard button. The Road Less Traveled as some would say. I would have to forge my own path if I hit that button. The jobs I took wouldn’t be easy and to start, I probably wouldn’t make much money. I wouldn’t have much money saved and I’d have to start renting a roof to sleep under straight away. There were many unknowns with this button. The potential reward outweighed the risk.

I knew that I needed to press the hard button. After laying out the two paths, the rational choice was clear. I needed to go with my gut however. I still do.