Friday, May 21, 2010

Another stimulating phone conversation with Helen

It is a warm autumn Saturday in Oz. I have never heard Helen so enthused before to tell her dreams to me on the phone in the early morning. In fact it was the first time she told one of her dreams to me on a phone conversation like this surprisingly with a tag of importance. Helen has committed suicide in her dream last Thursday. She lucidly remembered to throw herself to the large ocean entry around the Cape Schanck Lighthouse Reserve in the Mornington Peninsula then turned into a Lavagirl in the middle of this vast ocean.

I knew why Helen was telling me this dream and she also told it to another friend (David). This dream triggered a number of memories and thoughts in me when I was listening to her on the phone. Four years ago in a warm January day, one of our most interesting collaborative idea was emerged whilst having a cup of tea with Vegemite sandwiches in the Keeper's Cottage after filling our lungs with fresh ocean air in over 2 hours of walk. Still remembering a fiery discussion between our joint friend David (a retired cognitive scientist) and Helen’s father Bruce (retired professor of anthropology) whether amygdalae were considered part of the limbic system. Helen was pressing Bruce’s sensitive buttons with evolutionary nonsense and I was pressing David’s with artificial intelligence theories ironically to witness how their amydalae were in function in this discussion which we called kind of a meta dream or type of dream in dream like life itself. And, when we finished drinking our tea, Helen mentioned later a piece of research news from Monash Uni where she did her first degree and where I did my masters. The study then revealed that patients with more severe social phobia showed a correlation with increased response in the amygdala which David re-iterated as “a marker of the effectiveness of pharmacological and psychological treatments”.

I knew the main reason of this dream for Helen was her recent initiative to prevent youth suicide in Australia which has been an important phenomenon. Helen made a number of shows to raise funds for her research in this area. As a person of golden heart, Helen also directly interacts with the disadvantaged young people in streets and loves them "until it hurts". She listens to their dreams and dreams about their dreams. And Helen, unlike mythological Altjira of our aboriginals, will not seem to retire when the "Dreamtime" vanished!

In my view, jumping over the ocean is a fascinating symbol for Helen as those who knew her resembled her shows to, a number of times, close to committing suicide. Of course, this was nothing new to Bruce when David who also heard Helen’s story and started conversation this morning with Bruce saying “Helen committed suicide” as a teaser. But Bruce is now immune to or more tolerant to uncertainties attacking his amygdala about Helen. What else could he choose in these circumstances! Don’t you think oceans and uncertainties tell us poignant and incisive stories about volcanoes in our minds and hearts!

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