If you recall your college biology class, information from one neuron flows, virtually flies, to another neuron across a synapse. The synapse is the gap separating neurons. Probably because I wasn’t paying complete attention to my professor’s exciting voice, I’ve maintained the impression that the synaptic gap was a bit of a chasm. It was a very good day when all those messages made it through, like a Pony Express rider leaping his horse across rough-hewn gullies. During my advanced statistics tests, I may have even blamed those synapses for not catching those answers, which were desperately trying to get through to me.
As it turns out, today, I read that the synapse is but 20 nanometers wide (20 x 10-9 meter). To put that in perspective — If you stack up 100,000 nm, it’s as wide as a sheet of paper.
This explains those synaptic moments in my life, during my “away years” — say, while I was standing on a doorstep in a foreign land, my mind flitted away into the pleasant past or peeked into an uncertain future, returning just in time, when my body remained, as the door began to open. When the spirit flits away, it’s so slow and yet so fast.
Not only strangers in a strange land lapse into day dreams of a rosy future, finding themselves staring at a remembered vision that held them on course through struggles and through consequences. Not only immigrants walk down a street by an open window, and inhale a smell that rushes the mind back to a family gathering, tiny kitchen, street corner or grandmother’s voice. Not only the lonely will have their eyes well up on hearing a melody, a bell or a bird’s trill. However, for those who have come from afar, abandoned much, who have made a cleaner break with the past and perhaps thought more seriously about the future … well, ask them if they dreamed even while talking to you!