Some of my current reading is about the right and left sides of our brain. It has reminded me of what tremendously and amazingly intricate and complex beings we all are! I think of just some of the polarities between which I find myself and everyone I come to know.
Male and female
Apart from people with hermaphroditic qualities, human males have XY chromosomes and females XX chromosomes. We need each other to reproduce, but our character and sexual orientation are different matters again: we are so complex. Being male or female by gender usually means the dominance of certain character qualities, but this doesn’t mean we can stereotype each other. There are women who love kick boxing or join the military, and there are men (like yours truly) whose natural and favourite love-gift is service.
We each find ourselves somewhere along the richly complex and endlessly fascinating line between the “typical” female and male qualities.
Introvert and extrovert
Extroverts tend to be energised by company, to be assertive and to seek out excitement. Introverts tend to be more reserved, less outgoing, and less sociable; they are not necessarily loners but they tend to have a smaller number of friends. As with all character traits, none of us is one or the other, but we are somewhere on the scale between the two extremities.
I find that much of what I do and enjoy has to do with my introversion. I’ve always be energised by a day alone walking and browsing in the city; I’m never the life of the party and used to take most of the year to feel comfortable enough in my school class to contribute to a discussion; I tend to brood over issues; my hobbies and favourite sports are easily done alone. And yet my life’s work has required me to be a public person and lead a church, and I really enjoy public speaking and teaching.
Our brain consists of two hemispheres which (I’m told) are generally similar in appearance and structure, but they have different functions, and the anatomy of each is distinctive.
Although we are still discovering much about our brain function, it is generally correct to link the dominant hemisphere with left- or right-handedness and similar traits. It also appears that for most of us the left hemisphere is linked with logical functions such as problem solving, maths and language. Our creative, artistic and emotional life is usually located in the right brain.
The Corpus callosum is found between the two hemispheres and coordinates the work of the two. Or it should.
Once again, it is not hard to see that none of us is exclusively right or left brained, and that we all find ourselves drawing on both hemispheres if we can function as reasonably happy and productive people. But it’s also not hard to guess what may be responsible for autism (on the one hand) and (on the other) some mental illnesses.
Life is a mix of opposites
Christians (more than most other faiths) see us all as caught up in an all-involving conflict between God and Satan, good and evil. In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin and yang is used to describe how polar opposites or forces are in fact interconnected and interdependent. We must all constantly choose where we are and where we want to be.
I hate being caricatured: I know how complex each of us is, and I try hard to find my place considering who I realistically am and what I have learnt. I have long realised that I am not simply black or white, right or wrong, left or right brain. What an awesome and fascinating creature I am!