Last night, I had some very specific dreaming going on. The kind of dreaming I remember in great detail. The subject matter covered a lot of different people I know, who were doing a lot of unlikely things. Everything from flying to foreign countries, being in court for a handgun violation, getting stolen cars out of a parking garage that was frozen over, and hosting a huge party on a sweeping piece of hilly property. I sat down and chatted with a friend’s parents at one point. But they are no longer of this earth. It was the kind of dream that rolls on for what seems like half the night. Which is hard to do in my case, since I only sleep about 3 hours at any given time.
Regardless, when I wake from such a fiasco, I wonder — intensely — about my brain and what it was doing. Or perhaps, what I’m supposed to be doing now.
We have this thing in our skull which is really quite amazing. I am baffled by mine. I’m not alone. The human brain has amazed and baffled people throughout all of history. Certain scientists who have devoted their entire lives to learning how the brain works.
You would think, by now, we’d have a better idea about some of this.
I mean the thing only weight about 3 pounds. Heck, our skin weighs twice as much as our brains do. And the brain is mostly water. About 75 percent. It shouldn’t be that difficult to figure out water.
But just when it sounds simple, the reality sets in. Our brain consists of about 100 billion neurons. ONE dang HUNDRED BILLION neurons. And in each neuron? We have anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 synapses.
The thing that gets me is the progression of age. At birth, our brains are about the same size as our adult brains. And. We have those brain cells for our whole life. It takes up a lot of oxygen too. Out of all the oxygen we breathe in, the brain uses 20%. Big need. Don’t go without it.
But how can my brain do the things it does? Wave your hand at the screen right now. Your brain got the message, and it was able to get you body to wave your hand. Crazy. But just like that. Snap.
Which brings me back to last night. When we sleep at night, scientists found it is the best time for the brain to consolidate all our memories from the day. Was that my gig? All that weirdness in my dream? Smooshing of memories?
Or. Something else?
I mean, most people dream about 1-2 hours a night and have an average of 4-7 dreams each night. So, I could have just been on some sort of rapid-fire-dreaming-frenzy.
Here’s the scary thing. Our brain waves are more active while dreaming than when we are awake. Then, while we sleep, our brain tells our body to produce a hormone. And that good hormone paralyzes us. It prevents me, and you, and we, from acting out our dreams.
Which is a good thing. Because I was whacky-all-over-the-place in those dreams. I was also extremely tired when I woke up, and I couldn’t move my neck one inch. Residual hormone? Or was it the fact that my flight from Russian had cramped seating, and I had to sit like “this” for 14 hours, with a big pink Dumbo next to me, who was drinking Ovaltine with his nose. And he shared it with me. It had a little green umbrella.
Our brains. Mine is either snapping as it should, or I’ve snapped.
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
“A man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.,