Friday, February 10

Accepting the Synapses

O My God. I just clicked on the Compose tab instead of the Edit Html tab for the first time to create a new post. I'm in shock. It all makes sense now--I was feeling a bit saddened by not being able to adjust fonts and colors with html. My stupidity confounds me everyday.


We often find ourselves wondering how close we are to making connections, whether it is with other people, with our present states and possibilities we hope for, or just between ideas floating in our heads. Sometimes we feel like we have found pieces of some greater puzzle, the pieces being experiences and the puzzle being the greater experience of life in general. And yet, we can't help but become frustrated when a pair of pieces, or a cluster of them, just don't click. It's like you know they would fit perfectly, and yet it is as if there is a force that keeps them apart--even if it is by a few metaphorical nanometers.

Most of us can identify that that "force" preventing the pieces from joining together is none other than the Will of Allah, Subhanahu wa Ta`Ala. It is His "Kuun fayakuun" ("Be and it is") for which we are who, what, why, where, how, and when we are, and aren't. And still we continue wondering why He would do this--like we're in the middle of some sick joke (astaghfirUllah, I know). And this is why I think we should take a step back and try to look at a very significant example that may help us accept these situations of our lives.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Camillo Golgi (the apparatus guy?) published his theory that neurons in the brain were interconnected physically, and thus they communicated. I think the details of neuron communication were actually addressed earlier by Luigi Galvani and Emil du Bois circa 1750, which suggested that electrical impulses were used to transmit messages in the nervous system. Anyway, at the same time, Santiago Ramon y Cajal developed his Neuron Doctrine, which proposed that neurons were in fact physically independent of each other. Later it was established that between them were gaps of fluid. Obviously, I'm grossly oversimplifying both Golgi and Ramon y Cajal's theories, but I think this will suffice for our purposes. In 1906, both researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize for their findings, and each argued his own position during his acceptance speech. Later, Ramon y Cajal's position was accepted--that neurons are separated by what present-day textbooks call "the synaptic gap."

So why is there this gap? Wouldn't we be much better thinkers, much more efficient in almost every way of human functioning, if our neurons could "overcome" these gaps? We could answer this by examining the electrical conductivity of the fluid that bathes our brains, or by considering that much of the interactions between neurons and neurotransmitters could not occur in the absence of these gaps, but let's not. The answer I'm trying to get at shouldn't surprise anyone--it is all still a matter of His "Kuun fayakuun."

Guys, think about this.

Every gap has its purpose(s), realized or not. Honestly, if you could somehow experimentally eliminate all the synapses between your neurons, would you dare? For fear of the unknown (if not for fear of your own lack of skill), you probably would not.

Let's reexamine these pieces of our lives. The synapses between them have purposes we may never know or understand, while some purposes we may come to learn at a later time. It's okay if some pieces don't fit, if the distances between them don't make sense to us. We can only hope that Allah will help us extract the correct lessons from each piece, each cluster of pieces, through His Guidance and Mercy.


Current AAF: A + 8 = Me, now :)

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