I’m the King of Jubilee Jumbles

artist Nayland Blake natters on about art and other things

It was Friday I guess…

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Morning here. No TV on, no NPR, no music coming out of my computer. Sounds of the neighborhood riding the cool breeze that’s trickling in the open window. Planes, parents, the rustle of a plastic bag. I didn’t burn the oatmeal, but I did dry it out. Once again the desk is a series of piles., the keyboard dusty except for those most regularly struck. You can tell I don’t know what my function keys are for.

Yesterday I met my old friend Jeanne for breakfast at Bubby’s in Tribeca. She’s a photographer and media artist who I know from my earliest days in San Francisco. In the time that I’ve known her she has traveled and worked throughout eastern Europe. She met her husband when he was on assignment for NPR. She told me about her family’s struggles to care for its newest member: a young boy that she and her husband adopted from a Bosnian orphanage a couple of years ago. They’ve had him since he was 11 months old, but because of the circumstances of his earlier life (basically left for dead by his birth mother, with no experience in bonding, and an orphanage environment that included little if any physical contact with other people) he has become increasingly violent in recent years. Jeanne was in despair, until she found out a bout a program that deals with just such at risk children. She told me about the week that the family had just spent there, and the changes it has wrought. The problem it turns out is as much neurological as it is emotional. Children who have been deprived of touch and physical bonding in the early stages of their life have not been able to develop the pathways in their brain to move away from basic fight or flight behavior. They (physically) cannot trust those around them to provide for their safety, nor can they experience empathy for others. Frequently because of their behavioral issues they are diagnosed as having ADD and prescribed drugs that only serve to mask, at best, the underlying problems. If the problem is not recognized before adolescence, the child is lost, because the unused portions of the brain cannot be modified. Such children often kill and torture animals, and progress from there to assaults on people, frequently family members. The program that Jeanne is now engaged in is two-fold: physiological exercises that help to develop the unused portions of the brain, and emotional work that is geared towards allowing the child to bond. As she spoke I could see how exhausted she has been up to this point and how transforming this new approach has been. She is going on a deep, soul-building journey with the people around her. Truly she is helping this young boy to become human. It was profound to hear about it.

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Written by naylandblake

September 30, 2006 at 10:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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