I think, therefore I am. I refuse to spend another entire post talking about this virus, about the rioting, the hatred, and the division of our people. I want to, but I will not. Instead I wish to return more to the roots of this blog: life as aging male in the autumn of his life, on lessons I’ve learned, and on the dismaying and dazzling depth of the human spirit.
I’ve written often in the past on the marvel that is our human brain; one of my favorite posts I’ve penned is Learning for Life . The depth of its ability eludes definition or bounding and certainly eludes our full or complete use of it. They claim we only use 10% of its ability and while debated in the scientific community, I tend to believe that.
Certainly, Einstein and Hawking used a huge portion of theirs, but in reality, were they even close to even 50% of their full ability? And remember that their usage was all left hemisphere: math, science, reasoning, logic, and the like. So full utilization of that hemisphere is 50% the total at best! And while they surely used their right hemispheres, I am unaware of any marked achievements in writing, poetry, sculpting, music composition, or painting by either. So we’ll suffice it to say that they used the right side sparingly.
The same can be said of artists, writers, poets, and musicians who rocked the world for eons with their works of art – their works of the right hemisphere – none of whom left any memorable or notable marks in the field of science or mathematics.
And there are a great many who use both sides of the brain, expressing a keen logical mind and an artistic soul as well. I have friends who are scientists and play the bass, who are nuclear physicists and perform in rock and roll group. But I fail to come up with a name of someone who has done both to a notable level of achievement. We appear, generally speaking, to have a tendency to use one side of our brains more than the other. Not a condemnation of criticism, just an observation – and not backed with any empirical evidence. And regardless of which side(s) you use, you are never close to using all of the brain.
Consider, if you will for a moment, its functional ability. It takes all we see, hear, read, and otherwise witness in life and stores it all; files it, compartmentalizes it, and indexes it. But it does not let all that information lie dormant; it (seemingly) randomly takes bits and pieces of this information and drops them all on a large crafting table deep in our brains and it begins poking and prodding and pulling on the knowledge, mixing and matching it – reimagining it. And out of complex and intricate pool of words and experiences and images are born thoughts and ideas. We wonder and we ponder and we allow our brains to takes us much further than the mere knowledge or information ever could.
It can almost randomly produce a melody or lyrics, a poem, a short story, a painting, a sculpture, or similar artistic creation. Or it may suddenly deepen your understanding of a chemical reaction or a means to solve a math problem, or clarify some of the mysteries of physics. And that is just random mulling, thinking, or just daydreaming, sometimes even running in the background of our minds.
When we put our minds to it (pun intended) however, well that is when the magic really happens. Without ever really knowing how, we pull any and all the pertinent data and facts we possess to apply to the specific problem at hand. And if we lack all the component parts with which to solve it, we have our brains turn to books, databases, internet searches, and a myriad of other sources in order to learn and process the critical missing data. Then we solve the problem. And once that whole process is complete, whether it was a five minute exercise or a five week endeavor, that entire process, and all we learned throughout it, is stored away for future use and reference.
The power of creation, the logic of reason, the computation of solution: our brains can do it all. And when we lack basically any information or experience on the details of a moment, the brain can knot huge loops of thought and reason together to help us fill in the gaps with missing ideas. And when the stakes are high – the adrenaline is pumping and the heart is pounding – the brain can enable us to do things we ordinarily couldn’t. We use intuition, judgment, and hunches to form courses of action that would otherwise be not apparent. The brain can summon unknown strength, untapped courage, unchartered resolve, and other unrecognized abilities when they are most needed. And when we are obtusely unaware and are blithely strolling into certain danger, our brains can sound the first alarm despite of complete ignorance.
But wait! There’s more!! The unfathomable mystery of immediately liking or disliking a person at first glance – what is that all about? I am sure that this has happened to you at least once in your life…entering a situation and spotting someone across the room whom you instantly and strongly like, or dislike. And for me at least, it is more often dislike than like. But why??? In the past I have written about the tones, the harmonies, we all emit from our souls and our spirits, first pondered in The Waves of Harmony .
We all have instincts and intuitions and there could be an allowance for this mystery in those primal brain functions. But I believe there is more. Certainly I believe deeply in the idea of the frequencies of our own internal harmonics with blending and meshing with another’s, or clashing with them. And given the ease with which tones and frequencies can easily fold together harmoniously, I suspect it is why dislike is the more prevalent reaction. Discordant harmonies can be exceedingly unpleasant, but are rare. And I think it is part of the majesty of our brains that both recognizes and reacts to that dissension. So, as the theory seems to lead me, when you meet a person with whom you have diametrically opposed opinions, principles, and beliefs and with whom you’ll never agree, the tones and frequencies of their spiritual harmonics grate and grind with your own creating an instant dislike. The brain….
Aside from its ability to perform complex calculations, create great art, intuitively recognize danger, wonder, ponder, think, speculate, and organize trillions of bits of information, moments, data, facts, and memories….the brain helps mold our beliefs and principles. Yes dear reader, we are edging into the nature versus nurture realm here. There is no doubt that there are things with which we are born: the genetic coding of our DNA. And there are things we learn through the words and actions of our parents, the influence of what we read, and the thoughts and ideas of our friends. But all of those things end up in our brain, simmering like a stew, where we continue to refine the recipe with a dash of new experiences here, a dollop of new knowledge there, and the endless stream of life as it passes through our minds. The brain takes all of those inputs and uses them to at first mold ideas, then foster them, modify them, and refine them throughout our lifetime.
When you meet an old friend who you haven’t seen or really even thought of in ages, the moment of recognition is accompanied by a full disclosure of all the data we filed away: their principles, their likes and dislikes, the experiences that they shared with you, good moments and bad moments – they all come to the forefront of our minds with that moment of initial recognition. The brain is our personal lifelong computer.
Now having said all of this, you may ask: where is the soul? The spirit? Is that merely the output of the brain and not this mysterious vaporous and ethereal wisp of heart and mind blended together? I decidedly believe not! The soul is the cup, the chalice, in which we hold those qualities we value most; honesty, integrity, honor, respect, courage, kindness, and all those traits we hold dearest and admire most. Our brains help define and refine what it means to be honest or brave, but the soul, the spirit, is where the rubber meets the road, where we take what our brain has produced and actually do something with it. Where ideas become actions – especially during the most difficult of times. They are separate and distinct; never doubt that. The shades, tones, hues, and colors that make you different, unique, and special are all mixed, blended, and painted from the palette of your brain and then displayed with the soul, the spirit.
While there is so much more to this topic, I want to close out with this concept: we are what we think. And we cannot truly think – consider, ponder, and cogitate effectively – without a steady feed of new information, facts, and ideas…a stream of experiences, thoughts, and notions. We can’t just bath in a pool of the thoughts and ideas we had when we were twelve years old! We need to continually adapt and adjust through time; we need to grow! We need to hear the thoughts of others, see the actions of others, learn the consequences those actions…both good and bad. We cannot exclude the bad news, he anger, the hated, the suffering, and the strife; we have to allow it in and examine it, digest it, learn from it. It will almost always end up reinforcing the values and principles you’ve embraced for so many years. But sometimes, a kernel of truth is revealed which you never knew of, never recognized. And that is how we grow, by folding in that new information and refining your core values. It is about cognitive balance. Yes, balance – just like everything else in life. We absolutely have to allow ourselves to be exposed to thoughts and ideas that are in direct opposition to our own to allow for that balance.
Please take the time to examine all that is going on around us in the world today and understand some of the thoughts and ideas that are precipitating those actions. Sometimes the seed of a great idea becomes a weed of an action. But to ignore the concept because of the action is wrong. We need to at least attempt to understand the opposing perspective; we may quite well end of dismissing it as in opposition to our own. But on occasion, we may end up learning a little something and growing just a bit more as person. Stay well dear reader!!