Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Amygdalic Frisson

A week or two ago, I had a dream where I took off in a small boat, possibly a sailboat, from the shores of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, heading north into Lake Michigan. Almost immediately, a dense fog formed, and I quickly lost my bearings.

I was suddenly lost, hopelessly suddenly lost, and the frisson of fear, the shiver, the thrill, that I experienced? ... was delicious.

It wasn't orgasm-delicious, but still better than a punch in the head. More of a testicles attempting to pull up into the body, but at the same time, getting a serious tingle going kind of delicious.

This dream actually had a real life counterpart from the late 80s. Eldest brother had become addicted to wind surfing. One summer, he and a friend came into town loaded down with their gear and boards, and we headed up to Lake Michigan to the national lakeshore to go windsurfing. They talked me into trying it out. After a few spills and tumbles, I caught the strong wind out o' the west, and shot north into the big lake.

I was, as they said back then, booking. The excitement was the same for any experience of fast motion, the scenery fantastic, the early afternoon sun beating down from the west, the dark blue and white frills of the lake and waves, the infinite pale blue of the cloudless sky. And I just kept on going, feeding on the ride, and then looked behind, and...

No lake shore to the south. No shore at all in any direction. And I had that frisson of fear, that shiver, that thrill, and it was delicious. Not surprising I was pretty damn horny afterwards.

I thank my two little almond-shaped amygdalae for that. We have two, you know, on either side of the brain. I suspect, like almost everyone, since we are not entirely bilaterally symmetric, that one or the other does slightly different things, processes data in slightly different ways. Popular science literature tells us that the amygdala is the fear center, but clearly it is more than that. I wonder how old the amygdala are? Half a billion years? A billion? I don't know.

It was only a matter of time before the sensory pathways got to the forebrain, which informed me that the sun was in the west, me heading north, turn around. (And also, to the west, were the silhouettes of the skyscrapers of Chicago, descending down into the lake like a freshwater Atlantis).

So, a few spills and tumbles, I got turned around, and in a surprisingly short amount of time, I was back on land.

But that feeling? I never get tired of that feeling.

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