Last night at the Chapter One writers group, I read an essay I wrote a couple of years ago about my search for a creative outlet. It chronicled my failed attempts at dance, music, and art. I found myself to be hopelessly clumsy, possibly tone deaf, an only mediocre at drawing. I’ve had an ad for ballroom dance lessons on my dream board forever. It was a dream I considered unobtainable. I’d thought I was doomed to be left-brained; one whose analytic skills outweigh their artistic/creative skills.
That was until I discovered writing. It turns out to be the one artistic venture that I seem to have some natural ability at. Up until now, I saw that as a victory. Not just the victory of writing a story people might actually like to read. But a victory over the left side of my brain in a “move over left brain, the right brain is taking over” kind of way. That somehow, I had conquered my predetermined biological make-up.
Ha! I was wrong. I did some more research. It turns out right-brained people are better at art because they think visually, and left-brained people think verbally. Which means, left-brained people are better at putting thoughts into words instead of pictures, and therefore make better writers.
I found this to be frustrating. I’m not sure why it bothers me. Obviously it seems to be working to my benefit. But for some reason, I feel like I’m less in control. That any talent I have boils down to the way my cells divided when I was nothing more than a tadpole, rather than my determination, my heart and soul.
So I started taking every right-brain vs. left brain test I could find, hoping to find some evidence that my mind was more than a collection of gray matter that I had no control over. I was intrigued by the fact that I seemed to have attributes of each side. Then I read that some people can actually consciously switch sides.
So I tried an experiment. I stared at one of those tests that show a dancer turning in circles. If you see her as turning clock-wise, you are using your right brain, if you see her turning counter clock-wise, you are using your left brain. I stared, and I stared. I concentrated hard. Imagine my surprise when right before my eyes, she switched directions! I did it. I conquered my own brain! Although she seems to switch back to counter-clockwise easier and quicker than clock-wise, I can now control which side of my brain I’m using.
I plan to keep working on switching her direction until it becomes easier. Think of it as gray matter calisthenics. Maybe someday my mental work-out will pay off. And maybe I just might take those ballroom dance lessons after all.