Yup, I finally found my socks. I have been looking all over for them. I only brought three pair to China so I have to constantly wash my socks. I live a simple life. One bowl for eating, one white shirt, three suits, a pair of jeans, and a couple heavy coats and a pair of shoes. Along with a robe and liturgical clothes, a few books, what else do I need? SOCKS!
I finally found them in the refrigerator. Living in a monastery for many years and a brief episode of living on a sailboat for a year has conditioned me to living simply. But my brain seems to become more complex and absent minded. It bugs the heck out of me. There they were, my socks, in the refrigerator. Now how did that happen? Must have been holding onto them while getting something out of the refrigerator, laid them down, and didn’t pick them up again before I shut the door and walked away with a bowl of fruit in hand. Jeez, am I losing my mind?
Turns out that I am not. In fact except for these occasional glitches such as our brains processing speeds slowing down, remembering names, and learning new skills on the computer, I am getting smarter. Our brains can actually grow new cells to replace those crappy old olds if we exercise our brain. We can learn new languages faster than a child in fact. I learned Spanish when I was 53. I am learning Chinese at 60. I get more distracted and tire easier but my learning seems to have strangely improved This is not my imagination at play.
Barbara Strauch recently wrote in Woman’s Day.
“When it comes to most areas of cognitive performance, we’re at the top of our game in midlife, not in our 20s as many had thought. One of the most respected long-term studies, the Seattle Longitudinal Study, has found that most people are better at reasoning—which involves problem-solving and vocabulary skills—from ages 40 to 60 than they were in their 20s. So while we may be having trouble recalling the names of acquaintances, we’re surprisingly better at memorizing lists of words, getting the gist of arguments, making judgments of character and even juggling finances.”
“We’re also getting better at solving problems. Through the years, our brains have built up interwoven layers of knowledge that allow us to instantly recognize similarities and see solutions. One friend, a doctor in her mid-50s, says that when she gets into a hospital room now she can immediately size up the situation, which means she can often figure out what to do more quickly and easily.”
“And perhaps best of all, scientists are finding that this is not your mother’s middle age: Each generation is smarter in middle age than its parents were.”
I think this research is true. Yesterday I was sitting on a bus looking at Chinese characters. I had an overwhelming aesthetic feeling for the beauty of the ideograms. I felt intimately connected to them and they were easy to memorize.
You see, I knew I was getting smarter Now just where did I put my shoes?
P.S. Now just for a laugh and for the benefit of women reading this blog I shall post an image of the male brain although I am not so sure it applies to me..