My Brain: A Love Story

The month of March is Brain Injury Awareness month, and as many of you know I was a lucky recipient of such an injury many years ago. Yeah, there’s a bit of sarcasm in that sentence, but there is also a fair amount of truth, and a shit-ton of luck, too. Not only am I lucky to be here, but if not for that injury my view on life wouldn’t be what it currently is…including how I now understand and define Love. 

If you’ve read my most recent book it’s possible you understand my view on this topic and this will be an extension of that explanation. In a nutshell, I feel that Love is bigger than anything you would ever see in a movie or experience in a book. Yes, it can be a powerful feeling between two people that at times is indescribable, no denying this, but in this alternative view of mine it can be even more difficult to describe within words. It’s larger and more inclusive of all, including the animals, the soil, the sky, the wind, etc. It’s an all encompassing Love that is felt throughout the entire body, deep within the soul, and well beyond what the brain can even comprehend at times…at least in our current state. This may sound hippy-dippy to say, but in the simplest of terms Love is about a connection with all things. Now, even though I have this view on this pretty little thing called Love, I’d like to share a simple story that scratches the surface on how I somehow learned to adore this complex, ever-changing, previously wounded, and vastly altered brain of mine. 

Ever since I was a very young lad my mind has had an innate ability to travel. This was possible mostly through daydreaming or creating, and it just seemed second nature for my imagination to run all over the damn place. Through those years, I didn’t put a lot of focus on the source of this traveling ability. It was just part of me, in me, and the confirmation of its origin wouldn’t appear until much later in life…until it went missing. 

Yeah, that pesky TBI altered my ability to wander in and out of my thoughts, sharpening a softer focus into a hyper focus that was ultimately exhausting. The recovery was filled with moments of putting too much energy toward what I couldn’t control, losing the ability to be in more of a flow state. Hell, at times I felt like I didn’t even have much of a thought process whatsoever. Or it’s also possible I could have been untethered and roaming too freely without much of a grounding. Honestly, it’s all a little confusing in hindsight, though what I do know is that my previous self was seemingly lost, and something inside of me would have to figure out how the hell to get back to that person. 

Now, here’s what I consider the luckiest part of this desire to draw wasn’t really affected at the time of the injury. The ability was altered a bit, but not the drive. If anything that was amplified. 

In the past 20 years or so since my TBI, this instinct led me to draw more and more, creating thousands of creations during that time. Some weren't the best and others I’m quite proud of. The key here is that I just kept drawing, again and again. In 2012, I created a drawing a day for a year in pencil on paper. Then in 2014, I did the same but this time in ink, seeing how I could work through the “mistakes”. I also drew approximately 30-40 cartoons for the Clinton Courier back when there was a Clinton Courier, and that eventually became a path to try and get a cartoon accepted into The New Yorker (over 100 rejected but not forgotten as many were included in my first book). All of these endeavors through drawing, I believe, allowed me to reconnect to the part of my brain that went missing way back at the start of this century. 

In the past 4-5 years I made a leap in drawing that I never thought I would make. I’ve always been a stickler for drawing traditionally with pen or pencil on paper, as I’ve been drawing this way since I was very young. Mostly this hesitation was because I couldn’t get past the difference in the feel of a digital platform. The technology changed a little bit with a program called Procreate, but ultimately it came down to a new addition called PaperLike for the iPad’s surface…creating just the right feel and I was hooked. I also loved the reproduction quality and the ability to draw in layers, allowing more freedom to create within the drawings. Though all of this was great and I moved forward with not much hesitation there was an element in this new technology I didn’t expect.  

There is a feature within Procreate where it records your movements and allows you to replay the process (of which you can watch a short video here). I’ve always said the pen draws what it wants at times and those little videos revealed that truth…and it was when I started watching those videos I started to really understand how much my brain had recovered. How much my mind was wandering within these drawings and ultimately reconnecting to my old self in a whole new way. It was at this point I believe I was reunited with my first, and most elemental Love. 

My path since this realization has led me to a life filled not only with wandering, but also pondering. My thoughts would take a different route in more recent years and I prefer to refer to this path as a more scenic route. Where I’ve allowed my mind to lead me to places I never thought I’d visit, or be part of for that matter. Physically or otherwise.  Settling in on a much more trusted thought process. 

Interestingly, while writing my latest book, I had a feeling I should seek out a community supporting people with TBIs. I had done so much work on myself it just felt it was time to extend a helping hand to others. Not too long after that thought I found myself connected with an organization called Love Your Brain, which certainly seemed a bit serendipitous based on my recent rediscovered Love of this brain of mine.  

So, whether it’s through drawing, writing, or any other pursuit, I’ve come to trust my instincts more, knowing where I should be without much hesitation. Which in turn saves a hell of a lot of energy, too. Often in my creative endeavors I can stop and look fondly at something I’ve conjured up. This is not ego, but a necessary pondering of wonder over how something comes from what seemed like nowhere. Within that pause between moments of creation or execution I can rest in a bed of gratitude. The same happens when I look back on my connections made throughout my life, too, not too much different than watching those drawings being created in Procreate. Where I really see where all the steps have led, understanding it’s not so much about the destination, it’s about a journey through a land of possibilities. A meandering along the mysterious pathways that lead us back and forth, side to side, and somehow finds a balance with it all. Owing so much to a small muscle inside of our heads responsible for our connection with everything...if we let it. Not thinking about its size or the boundaries that contain it. It seems to be an antenna to a global, overarching grandness of what Love could be, and surprisingly it connects via the spinal cord to the vagus nerve that meanders down the body touching on various areas of the lungs, the heart, and ultimately connecting to our gut. And what brings that thought all the way back to the start is that “vagus" is latin for “wandering”. So, yeah, at this point I would suggest pausing to express a healthy, “woah”!

My Love affair with this brain of mine has not been an easy one. It’s been filled with many disagreements and various misunderstandings, not unlike any relationship. Though as many relationships may reveal, you can’t really be true to each other if you don’t Love yourself…and for me that starts with the Love I see in the endless possibilities of my brain. How it has allowed me to see beyond what science can prove. Beyond where the body can travel. And how when I allow that brain to be more open to its instinctive wandering ways, it just happens to always find its way to the heart. 


Love Your Brain uses Mindfulness, Movement, Nutrition, and Community to help those who’ve suffered a brain injury. They are the best of humans and are always looking for more participants, funding, etc. so please reach out if you feel called to do so. 

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