When nothing is sure,
Everything is possible.
– Margaret Drabble
Last week, we talked about how the brain ages… how it’s natural tendency is to get stuck in routine, limited by the confines of the skull, limited by concrete thinking. As we age, our brain goes literally from being malleable, flexible, growing, open fontanels and unfused skull plates… to encasement in bone, linear thinking, a huge storage place for labels and facts, repetitive neuronal pathways. If you can find a way to keep your neuronal interconnections growing, you literally keep your brain younger. Adaptable. Warding off dementia and other age related changes.
And here is the way to do it… open-ended thinking.
And here is the way to age your brain… label things.
Just because we can label something, doesn’t mean we *know* it or understand it… in fact, the labeling of it usually ends our exploration of it. Once we find a name for it, then the possibility it holds is limited to our labeling of it… the fact we think we understand about it becomes the outcome. Labeling collapses possibility.
Try to visualize the Universe and come up with a fact about it that covers everything we know and don’t know about it. We can’t know all there is to know about the Universe and collapse it into a fact, that would be to completely ignore the enchantment and mystery of it all . It is completely beyond facts and labels. Can you go into our cells, atoms, the space between atoms, and deeper still, and conceptualize what that looks like and what it all means? It is beyond understanding. You can’t go out far enough, and you can’t focus down small enough and find an answer.
Can you know what death is? Can you make it a fact? It is a mystery, a beautiful mystery, and you can’t know… no one can know. I find it very comforting that it is so complex.
When I was younger, searching for answers, I was very anxious about it. How do different religions really *know*? How are they sure? What if they are wrong? Who do the rules apply to? What is heaven? What is hell? Am I doing it right?
And then, when I realized how BIG and infinite a mystery it all is, how no one knows, I began to relax. Ahhh.. there is space for it all. My *own* answers started making themselves known to me… and what I finally *felt* was that yes… existance really is so complex that there must be a divine uniting force behind it all.
Do you believe in heaven? In reincarnation? In the possibility that we are all connected? In string theory? In purple martians from space? Yes, there is room for it ALL. Because no one knows! Everything is possible!
Go down to a single molecule, or go up to the furthest reaches of space, and all you’ll find is more questions. This comforts me more then any fact or religious doctrine I’ve ever read. Yes, it truly is that marvelous.
Somehow, if our existence was so simple that a human being really could understand it all and *know* it all, label it all, write a religious manifesto about it all, I just wouldn’t be able to believe that there was something bigger beyond this life. But by embracing the magical mystery of it all, I find my deepest comfort.
What is true for you?
What is truth?
What is fact?
Is there such a thing?
From what perspective?
What is possible for you?
Open ended thinking keeps health and healing flowing to your brain. Asking more then answering the questions in your life. Asking “I wonder?”. Can you think of the last day you spent asking more questions then answering questions? For many of us, that day was way back in our childhood.
Asking “I wonder.” Just “I wonder?” Instead of answering. How long could you maintain that sense of curiosity? One minute? Ten minutes? One day? A lifetime? How long can you go without creating facts for yourself. Here is an exercise I read about long ago in a homeschooling book. Try holding an object in your hands for ten minutes and ask nothing but questions about it. Say it is a rock…
I wonder how much it weights…
I wonder what it is made out of…
I wonder how far I could throw it…
I wonder if it was around when dinosaurs were around…
I wonder why it has a grey stripe in the middle…
I wonder if it could skip across the lake…
How long can you continue to ask questions? If you can only think of two or three, you might want to try asking more open ended questions… not searching for an answer, just keeping open to inspiration. Maybe you’ll wind up getting a fabulous idea of something to do with the rock. Maybe it will remind you of a childhood memory. Maybe you will pick up some chalk and play hopscotch with it with your kids.
If you are having trouble, ask your kids to pick something up and ask questions about it, come up with stories and jokes and mysteries about it. No doubt they will put you to shame, at least my kids are always able to beat me at it for sure!
This is one of the reasons we love homeschooling… unschooling. The ability to wonder, to not be satisfied with a one word label. Labels and facts are very uninteresting to my children. Dreaming and story telling and wondering… that’s where the growth is, that’s what my children’s heads are filled with. And slowly but surely, they are reminding me to rejoin the path of wonder. And every year, I grow less interested in answers, and more interested in possiblities. And every year, I swear I can just *feel* my brain waking up, and becoming healthier!
Come back on Wednesday for Aleka’s second post and another chance to enter her give-a-way. And come back next Monday for another Thought on Health! Got any ideas what organ I should do next? I’m open to suggestions! xoxo