Sometimes I wonder whether my brain is in charge or I am.
I have come to the conclusion that there is a difference. My brain is a bit of a bully. It likes to tell me what to do and how to do it. And this independently from my wishes.
It starts already in the morning. While I definitely want to sleep another wink, my brain has no compunction giving me signals to get up. The first signal arrives via the bladder of course. I try to ignore this signal by calling on the god of dreams, Morpheus. But he has gone to where the night has gone to and can’t hear my prayers anymore. I have to get up.
All day, my brain is urging me on, even when my body can’t go on anymore. We would assume, that the brain knows the condition of the body, but this is not so. I like to jog and I get ready and go out and hit the road. My brain encourages me instead of warning me. At my age, a step in time could mean a step in pain.
My mind is not my brain. It uses the brain too, but then, the brain does its own thinking and tries to influence me. The brain ages too, but it does not know it! The memory is shrinking but still, the brain does think with a reduced capacity.
Even uneducated people do a lot of thinking, but mostly, they come to the wrong conclusions. Having an old brain is like being uneducated as the knowledge to know better has dissolved. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein, who said we are using only 1% of our brain. But what if we lose the good 1% first? Wouldn’t that create havoc with our lives?
This happens a lot to me, because of my failing memory. I try to get by with my feelings and how I perceive the world at a certain moment in time. But my brain has not a bar of it. It urges me on, bullies me, to do things that are dangerous.
My hearing and my vision are impaired, but my brain takes no notice of it. When we were children we had problems estimating the speed of oncoming traffic. I had a childhood friend who ended up under a tram. For Christ’s sake, one cannot overlook a big monster like a tram.
Now that I am old, I experience the same problems. I might be able to estimate the speed of a car, but not the time that has passed between looking right and left. My own actions are much slower and by the time I have checked in both directions a car might be approaching which was nowhere to be seen a moment earlier. Still, my brain gives me the okay to cross the road. If I hear the screech of the brakes, I’m okay.
After the age of forty the brain shrinks by 5% each decade. That means, in my case, 20% of my brain is gone. Surely, my cognitive ability must be suffering. But I’m sure my brain has no idea and thinks all is fine and dandy. How often we have heard from people, who clearly look aged beyond their years. “I still feel young!” they pronounce, unaware that their brain is playing tricks on them. Perhaps not on purpose, but out of sheer ignorance. It seems ridiculous, but the brain can’t even estimate its own age.
If there is a repair to be done around the house my brain urges me to do it. I’m the man, I have to do it! When I get the ladder out, there is no warning, just the instruction, “Do it!”
On wobbly legs, I climb up and put myself in mortal danger. My wife can see that, but my brain has no idea. Is it, that the brain has a death wish? That would explain why so many elderly people have accidents. It is almost like the brain wants to get rid of me.
Perhaps, I am old enough to recognise, that I can’t do anything about my brain. It is the one I developed myself in the womb. I’m stuck with it. Now, I have to control it instead it controlling me.