Happy Thanksgiving: An Ode to my Brain

Lately, I’ve begun to question my very own brain. It’s always been a mystery, all body-guarded up in skull and fluids and pulsing with its own dark, Frankensteinian life. I don’t usually give my brain too much thought (ba-dum-dum)…but lately it seems that my brain is using its hidden, protected qualities to its advantage, misbehaving and causing conflicts, knowing that there is no one around to tell it what to do. I deal with this kind of boundary-testing behavior all the time with my children, but with my brain?? Come on.

My son told me that his science teacher has a term that he applies to the student behavior of talking too much during class: “diarrhea of the mouth.” This is a common enough term, but I kind of questioned it being used so flippantly in school, and by a teacher no less. Diarrhea is an ugly word, no doubt about it.

But it got me to thinking: I believe I  have “diarrhea of the brain.” (Bear with me here.)  Picture my brain, randomly crapping bits of information here, other bits there, with no regard for symmetry and solidity of thought. It’s noisy and smelly and turns even my husband off. But I can’t help it. I’m afflicted, and the only known cure is at a yoga/mediatation retreat in the mountains, all by myself, preferably on a lake or a river.

As a writer and wife and daughter and sister and friend and border collie-owner and mother of three (ranging in age from 11 to 1), I constantly feel like I’m firing (or rather misfiring) off thoughts, all disconnected and random. I feel like the hub in the center of a bouncing and crashing mountain bike tire, the spokes my many duties and obligations, barely holding onto the dirty tire of my life.

My chaotic mode of thinking intensifies around the holidays, I’ve found. In addition to the normal day-to-day thinking I have to do, I also have to think about special food preparation, gift-buying, decorating, wrapping.  And not to mention the fact that my immediate family has THREE birthdays in the month of December. No wonder my brain can’t keep up. It’s insanity, but I call it reality. Brains really do have a lot to do. So I started feeling sorry for my brain a little, with all of the demands I put on it. It’s trying its best, and these are hard times after all.

My father suffers from a Parkinson’s-like affliction called Lewy Body Dementia. Symptoms are similar to Parkinson’s, but are heavier on the dementia. He can’t speak coherently, and he has gotten to the point that he doesn’t recognize me or my sister any more, a very painful conclusion to a long, drawn-out loss of memory and body function. I try to visit him once a week, but it’s difficult for  me and hard on my children and husband. His brain was once firing on all cylinders–he owned a company, raised a family with my mother, worked in the yard and on the house all the time. He was part of the “greatest generation.” He has lived a successful life. But his brain failed him in the end, greatness be damned. 

Brains are actually fragile, I’ve come to see. They are our own biological computers, and we all know how much we love and adore our computers! We must be thankful for our brains, for all that they do. I mean, just a few primitive invertebrates don’t have them– sponges, jellyfish, and starfish are cool, but pathetically brainless. This Thanksgiving, I plan to appreciate my brain by writing something that’s never been written before, by taking mental pictures of all of my loved ones and storing them in my mind for future use, by telling my loved ones how much I love them and appreciate them for all that they bring to my life.

Happy Thanksgiving, brain! I’d kiss you, if you weren’t so hard to get to.

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