Editor’s note: This post is a little sadder than I usually write, so if you don’t want to read it today I’ll understand. If you do read it, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts….
I spent last weekend at the University of Wisconsin surrounded by thousands of examples of human brains at their finest and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.
I have written before about my fascination with the cool juxtaposition of vulnerability and resilience within the human brain and I believe those characteristics are becoming more pronounced.
In my unscientifically educated opinion, we are experiencing a period of heightened evolution as human beings. Exposed, as they are, to massive amounts of information at 1000-megabit-per second speed, our lobes and cerebellums must be stretching in unprecedented ways.
With our basic survival needs relatively unthreatened, our brains can shift their focus. I believe we are becoming more introspective as a result. I offer only anecdotal evidence to support this theory, but I hope I’m right.
This could be a period of profound growth for our species, but only if we recognize the challenges that come with such an opportunity. Often when parts of our bodies reach and stretch, they become more tender and need to be treated with caution and care.
At the last ceremony of my daughter’s college graduation, I sat with other parents of English majors and listened as two especially brave, eloquent mothers accepted degrees for and paid poignant tribute to their children, two brilliant students who had died during the semester.
That these grieving women had to make these painful tributes on Mother’s Day struck us hard and most of us cried right along with them. Quoting the student speaker at the University of Wisconsin’s main graduation the day before, these mothers spoke of “lifting the mask” to let others know when you are in pain and may need help.
Imagine the strain our brains are under as they adapt to this incredible world. I think our brains and the people carrying them around might need a break every now and then.
I’m certainly not trying to simplify a complex problem. But, I am saying we live in extraordinary times and we need to acknowledge that.
Be honest with yourself and seek help if you need it. Treat your brain to a good think and check your levels of empathy and compassion for yourself and the people you love.
We’re building a brave new world in an era of magical thinking and that’s got to be hard on our brains.
Thankfully, we don’t have to go it alone.
I spent last weekend surrounded by thousands of extraordinary brains and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.