An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of September 9, 2001
written in the woods not far from Natchez, Mississippi, USA

HYPOGLYCEMIA & SPIDERS

My second Garden Spider has moved yet again, this time more into the tall grass and shrubs between my trailer and open-walled outhouse. I know it's the same spider because she makes a web much larger and more perfect than usual, though she herself is smaller.

It's worth thinking about the fact that I can know this spider, for many would say that such small creatures have no identities -- they are all the same.

This reminds me of an experiment I read about long ago. Different chemicals were given a spider to see how each chemical would affect the spider's web. Most striking was how the spider given marijuana's active ingredient produced a sloppy web with many incorrect connections and holes. On the other hand, when the spider was given the active ingredient in LSD, the web produced was perfect, as if the chemical had increased the spider's power of concentration.

It makes one wonder how much our own realities are affected by whatever chemicals or hormones happen to be flowing in our veins at the moment. Could just the right knock to my head or a change in my diet convert me from a happy hermit to a nervous land-developer overnight?

I wonder about these things a lot, especially because I am hypoglycemic. If I happen to stoop for awhile and then stand up, things go black and I'm lucky if I can keep standing. Then as blood sugar slowly returns to my brain I become able to take a few steps, though I seem to see things through a tunnel. Finally I return to full consciousness. I think that this happens to everyone, but with me it is a daily, sometimes hourly event.

Thing is, during those first few seconds when I'm able to walk but see things as if through a tunnel, I think I'm fully recovered, and actually feel happy that once again I can concentrate so clearly on the ground before me and walk with such self assurance. It's only moments later when I'm really normal that I remember back to my tunnel-walking just a second or two earlier and  I realize that as I tunnel-walked my thoughts and insights had been profoundly limited.

In other words, several times a day I remind myself that the very dumb can never know just how dumb they are. I am also struck that during the first few moments of "being myself," I can still recall exactly how it was to be "tunnel walking," and I am appalled at how self-centered and narrow the tunnel-walking headset was. Also, during those first moments of "becoming myself" there's a rushing feeling -- it's as if my soul were being instantaneously derived from bright melodies in a lush, gorgeous symphony. The whole process is like passing from being a Republican to a Democrat to a member of the Green Party.

By the same token, how can I know that when I'm "normal" there isn't an even more lucid state beyond that, one in which I could "really be myself" if I only had the brains to go there?

In fact, because of very brief moments of insight accomplished during moments of meditation, I am sure that those higher levels of enlightenment do exist.

Recollections of insights understood during those brief moments of enlightenment have a little to do with why I am now a hermit in the woods. However, now in my "normal" state, I am really too dumb to explain to you clearly how my reasoning works Facebook Icon