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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Growing your Brain

  I am not someone who believes that there needs to be an hierarchy of taste when it comes to enjoyment of what we read, watch, listen, and play.  If you like midget wrestling, or reading westerns, or watching The McLaughlin Group, more power to you.  I believe that the same reasoning goes for listening to Abba, watching Godzilla, playing Super Mario, or reading romance novels.

But, while I believe that you can like whatever you like, guilt free, short of snuff films, and evil behavior, I don’t think that is necessarily as important as what you watch says about you.  The average human spends more time changing channels on the television and considering the drive thru menu at Arby’s than contemplating the meaning of life.  That isn’t a criticism.  And of course, there is no way of measuring it that I can be certain, but, the truth is that most people prefer to avoid the deeper questions, and that is readily found in popular culture’s media.

So when you enjoy reading a book, you are making a statement.  If you read a romance novel, you are perhaps escaping.  Maybe you are heartbroken and need a lift, or maybe you love the fantasy of it.  Maybe you like reading science fiction or westerns.  Or maybe, you like reading Franz Kafka because he challenges your mind.  The same concept of escape, and genres extends to every other medium.   We can choose to grow in any form.

So, then, what am I suggesting?  I am not saying anything really big, except this… there have been studies that suggest anecdotally that learning new things, exposure to new ideas, new concepts keeps your brain active.  People learning new things and new concepts were less likely to suffer Alzheimer’s disease.  Since my mother suffered and died from that horrible disease, I’d like to think I have some place in telling you, that is a worthy cause to take up.

If you have played video games for 30 years, and you don’t want to play board games, fine.  Try a new genre of video game.  If you read only fiction, and only mysteries of the fiction sort, I suggest you either try a historical work solving a great mystery, or you try writing your own.  Do things that use different mental muscles.  I promise you that even if you decide that you don’t like it, the things you do like will still be there when you come back.

Personally I am changing one thing for a brief time.  I have been working or going through health treatments or being in hospital for the last two years.  I haven’t read for pleasure or watched movies in that time.  So I plan to do some lovely reading.