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I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
Sometimes I start my walk knowing the topic to ponder. Other times, an idea emerges from the mental abyss. Sometimes, like today, an idea appears from nowhere. Why not think about the part thinking?
Yes – the brain – that 3-4 pound (1.2-1.5 kg) neural mass of gray and white matter housed within our skull. Although weighing only 2 percent or less of our body weight, the brain uses 25% of our total calories to function.
The brain controls our body activities, stores and recalls our memories, and coordinates various activities as digestion, breathing, heartbeat, body temperature, blood sugar level, and much more. No wonder the brain is a network of 80-90 billion nerve cells called neurons.
The brain makes us individuals. Our brains are similar to each other, yet each of us is different. Toss in the human experience of wide-ranging emotions from happy to sad to anger and more, the brain gives us different personalities allowing each of us to have different levels of trust, empathy, sense of humor, communication skills, analytical abilities, and more.
The brain transforms images from the eyes into our real-time 3-D theater accompanied by sound, taste, smell, and touch; something that movie theaters cannot do. However, our interpretation of that experience is subjective as we apply personalized meaning and value to everything – and that meaning and value will be different for each of us.
The brain takes in countless bits of information to analyze, discard, store, and recall. Sometimes we struggle to retrieve information that we know is there – yet – it is difficult to forget something that we want to forget. We also easily recall something meaningless from second grade but struggle with something from yesterday.
Always buzzing, humming, and racing, the brain never sleeps. Body functions still need controlled and coordinated 24-7-365. Sensations are still notes – let alone the night-time activity of dreams accompanying our sleep. Sometimes dreams are so furious, the racing mind prevents us from sleeping.
The brain increases awareness of our surroundings, plus gives us sensations like hunger, thirst, and pain. It influences our perceptions, thoughts, and feelings while projecting us for others to notice and evaluate with their brain.
The brain is not only what differentiates us from each other, it separates humans from the rest of the living world. Our brain is not the largest because elephants and whales have larger brains. But it’s our brain’s complexity – the interconnectivity of the billions of neurons makes the difference. Yes – the human brain is special.
We are social creatures with a brain wired for communicating language, emotions, memory, problem-solving, and more. Compared to us, animals in the wild spend much more time seeking and eating food for maintaining their basic survival needs. We are not the only social creatures, but the human brain’s complexity allows us to do much more beyond mere survival.
Ever see someone, but you can’t recall their name? Recognizing a face is important to social creatures. Each face is different each time we see them. The time, the angle, lighting and shadows, expressions, clothing, and context. Who are they? I know them from somewhere, but where? Where did I meet them? The brain goes through that mental catalog to come up with a name every time we encounter someone. Then again, maybe the one we saw was a doppelganger.
The brain is our center for learning – and think about the importance of being a life-long learner. In today’s world, that is more important than ever! Each of us uses a variety of learning styles – visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or logical. All of them are important in different ways, but each of us has a preferred learning style.
Left-brain/right-brain are popular notions. The left is the center of reason and analytics – the right for the visual, spatial, and artistic. We use both sides more than just the left hemisphere controlling the muscles on the body’s right side – and vice versa.
The brain – the center of consciousness – but what is consciousness? Is it the complex interaction within the brain and with other body parts? Maybe consciousness is the concept of the brain’s interplay with our heart. Would that mean a mental heart? Possibly a collective soul? Consciousness – something that we don’t know much about – yet some study it.
Are consciousness and the mind the same? Is humanity linked together by consciousness? Are all living things linked together by some form of consciousness? The mere thought of thinking about this makes my brain hurt – but that is just an expression.
The brain is where we interpret pain, yet the brain itself cannot feel pain – but somehow a person can feel phantom pain in a missing limb.
The brain is the place we associate with headaches, seizures, tremors, strokes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and epilepsy.
The brain allows us to think about questions that we cannot answer such as; Who are we? Why are we here? How did creation occur? Is there life after death?
I look at the water and think about life in the sea. Jellyfish without a brain, but with an organized collection of nerves to control feeding and detect their environment to bring about a response. An octopus with one main brain, plus eight mini-brains – one for each arm.
Fish brains are an advancement, but far from the brains of the dolphins I occasionally see. The brains of birds in the air may be small, but they are much more complex than fish brains. Relative to their body size, bird brains are large.
As I look across the water across the sea, I wonder: Is our brain wider than the sky and deeper than the water of the sea?
The brain is each of us, yet individuals know very little about it. Maybe someone learned something from these neurological musings as I walk. After all, I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have written about the brain
- A Waterfall in My Brain (poem)
- Train that Brain with a Spark (collection of short poems)
- Brain Tree (poem)
- I Can’t Brain Today, I Have the Dumb (photos for a laugh)
Next Post: Seeds – Saturday 29 May @ 1 AM (Eastern US)
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