I caught up to the trio just before they reached the theatre. Skidding to a stop beside them, I asked which movie they were going to. My newfound confidence was like a clumsily wielded super-power, but without flinching I invited myself to join them. Something had taken over, something firing on all cylinders, and I was going along for the ride.
I had never heard of “Limitless” before and didn’t know what to expect, but as the premise of the film became clear, I began seeing parallels between myself and Cooper’s character, Eddie Morra. A writer with a book deal on a book he hasn’t started, Morra is stuck. He can’t write, his apartment is a mess, and he looks like a pile of last week’s laundry. Life is happening to him, and he has no response. Introduced to NZT, a revolutionary new drug, Morra is suddenly able to recall everything he’s ever read, seen, or heard. His creativity skyrockets, his intuition becomes razor sharp, and he is a social phenomenon. Morra finishes his book in four days, learns new languages in hours, analyzes situations perfectly and acts accordingly. Where people access only %20 of their brain, NZT gives Morra access to all of it. Carefully monitoring his daily dose for maximum effectiveness and minimal side effects, Morra masterfully plays the stock market, brokers the largest merger in corporate history, and ventures into politics as the final stroke to his legacy.
My journey back from traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been a long one. That %20 I used before the accident became %12 illegible mess, %5 ignorance, and %3 to rage, mourn, and hope after the accident. For a while I just drifted, hoping that time, more than anything else, would bring relief. Ultimately, things improved steadily and they continue to. From what I’ve learned about brain plasticity, I know that new neurological pathways will continue to form as long as I force them by challenging my areas of weakness. So that’s what I do. And every now and then an act of rebellion against my tendencies results in a successful breakthrough. Every now and then one of these breakthroughs ends at the theatre with three new friends, and when this happens it’s like I’m on NZT. The resulting high, this cerebral power surge, makes me feel like anything is possible, that I too am limitless.
But I suspect I am not. My limitations are too well documented, well established, well known, and well worn. I challenge them almost out of habit now. It’s not the panicked thrashing it used to be, but more like steady, dripping water dissolving stone. Presently, I’ve taken aim at the psychological baggage that holds me down. The battleground has shifted from my brain to my mind. Building self-esteem, recreating my self-image, and navigating social relationships don’t require the neurological work-arounds used to overcome cognitive obstacles . They require insight, and they require fortitude. They require a dogged perspective, a faith in myself and who I am. They require a willingness to look like an ass sometimes.
They also require luck, and if I’m lucky, the occasional hit of NZT.