Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Last Frontier

The brain is a fascinating thing. I have always been amazed and intrigued by the mysteries that it harbors.

Some people's brains are terribly injured and cannot carry out the day to day tasks that most of us take for granted. But they can play any piece of music after hearing it only once. Or they can do mathematical equations of startling complexity in the blink of an eye. Or they can tell you upon what day of the week any given day in history fell.

Sometimes, people lose half their brain to injury or disease. And yet they live, and even regain some of the function for which the missing half was responsible.

Some people can do things with their brain that truly astound, but which also evoke profound skepticism. ESP has been a hotly debated subject for years. And yet who has not experienced a certain "feeling" now and again? A child in trouble. A loved one ill. Or just an inexplicable portent of doom?

Who has not, on occasion, correctly identified the caller on the other end of the phone?

Some people's brains are terribly dysfunctional; the chemicals and compounds that govern it hopelessly disordered. Once these people were thought to be posessed by the devil. They were subjected to "exorcisms" that broke them body and soul. They were shut away from the light of day and forgotten.

Some people's brains allow them to create masterpieces of astonishing beauty, write music that moves us in ways that are as mysterious as they are profound, solve puzzles and prove theories that have baffled mankind for centuries, and compose poems and stories that chronicle the human condition in all it's wonder and wretchedness. Those things transport us outside of ourselves.

And yet there is evidence that many of those people are "different". There is speculation that Mozart, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens, Napolean, Handel, Berlioz, Van name just a few, suffered disabilities such as Asperger's syndrome, ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia.

Albert Einstein, like my Diminutive One, did not speak until he was three. Thomas Edison did not read until he was twelve. George Washington was barely literate.

How astounding. Some of the most famous, brilliant, and creative minds in history, were "unconventional".

Once, on a particularly bad and hopeless day, I wept copiously in the office of Diminutive One's therapist. What she said to me will probably stay with me the rest of my life.

"Listen..there isn't a famous person out there who wasn't a complete pain in the ass as a child. Artists, authors, scientists and war heroes...every one of them had a mother who tore her hair out in despair when they were young."

I often wonder how my unconventional child will make his mark on the world. I often wonder what mysteries his brain holds. Sometimes I can appreciate his uniqueness. Sometimes, I just wish for a normal kid.

And sometimes, I run across something that reminds me just how complex and uncharted the human brain really is, and illustrates to me that anything is possible, even for those who seem in some ways disabled.

The other night on American Idol, Paula called David Archuleta a "savant", which is a complete mischaracterization. I was trying to explain to Husband the difference between a savant and a prodigy, but I was having a hard time articulating my thoughts.

So I turned to that most wondrous of modern tools; Google.

This is what I found:

I find that so amazing and intriguing, and just...wonderful.

But I'm sure that if you asked his mother, she would rather he have a conventional brain and live a conventional life.

And yet, people such as Steven Wiltshire, Kim Peek, and Daniel Tammet give us a glimpse into the true potential of the human brain.

Perhaps someday, that potential will be realized.

Until then, we can only marvel at those who have a smidgen of true greatness within the dark and twisted runnels of their beautiful brains and hope that one of them will provide the key to the mysteries that lie within.

Space is not the last frontier. I believe that distinction belongs to the human brain.

At least we no longer torture and imprison, disregard and condemn the different, the unique, the retarded and the mad.

Such is the measure of our progress as a human race.


  • At 2:37 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    Very well said (er, written)... I can't wait to see what D.O. has in store for us!

  • At 2:55 PM, Blogger Alison said…

    So true. You KNOW all those mothers agonized when their children were young.

    As my dad always says, "Parenting is a long-range project." And part of it is believing in your child's potential even when no one else does.

  • At 3:39 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    This was amazing

  • At 3:43 PM, Blogger Green-Eyed Momster said…

    This gave me the wonderful tingly goosebumps from head to toe. The kind that make you feel fully alive. Thanks for this today. Steven is amazing. I didn't see any EASY part to that masterpiece he made from memory. Absolutely wonderful, BA!

  • At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This was such an incredible, incredible post. How true. How important, too. What insight. Really.

  • At 5:43 PM, Blogger Day Dreamer said…

    I do love coming here.

    My mom was one who 'they' thought was completely crazy, over medicated, and shunned. When her chemicals were balanced a bit, she was a totally different woman.

    I visited each of the three sites above. I am in awe of each of them. Makes you wonder what we could do if we could unlock more of our brains.

    I have faith that the D.O. will do well...

  • At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BA, I consider myself to be down to earth but I do have an open mind. My VERY open-minded MIL gave me this book when my daughter was born... and all though I can't say I subscribe to MOST of it, it is a rather interesting theory... and a very convincing one at that.

    You should check it out; it might give you some new insight. Nice post, BTW.


  • At 9:18 PM, Blogger Girlplustwo said…

    it's one of the delicious mysteries, not knowing how it's going to evolve. of knowing how little of our brains we actually use. how unconscious we can the potential is limitless.

  • At 10:08 PM, Blogger Cathy Burke said…

    We have so much to learn about our brains. The best brains are the most active-they just need to focus. I also believe that a kid's worst quality in childhood is his best quality as an adult. Better to help channel and nurture these creative and imaginative kids than try to breathe life into a listless individual.

  • At 10:19 PM, Blogger Middle Girl said…

    How awesome is that? wow.

  • At 10:25 PM, Blogger anne said…

    What an great video. A real tribute to the amazing human brain.

    I will never forget the night my brother-in-law, a schizophrenic with genius level IQ, sat and told me a 15 minute story in perfect rhyme. Off the cuff.

    Would that we all could tap into that level that seems just beyond reach. Without vodka.

  • At 2:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    When I was tearing my hair out with my son at about age 7, his therapist said "He's just a miniature Robin Williams...can you imagine what HIS mother when through?" And it did help. He was right, too. My son's mind is just faster and a bit stranger than most kids. No savant though.

  • At 4:27 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    unbelieveable! that is, until you read your blog where you make such sense of it...

  • At 7:59 AM, Blogger Terri said…

    Great post! I was just talking with a friend about this very topic the other day.

    I have often worried over my nine year old who seems to be somewhat ADHD; yet, she is so artistic and creative. I really wouldn't want her to be any different.

    I loved your comment about the brain being the last frontier. I completely agree.

  • At 10:01 AM, Blogger Sensitiva McFeelingsly said…

    I had never seen this video before, I am so pleased that you shared it here.

    My nephew has Autism, and I often wonder what he will show us when he comes out of his shell a bit.

    Husband and I frequently talk about how we, as a species, might be misled when trying to bring children with Autism back from where they are - is it right? Or are they simply the next step in the evolutionary process?

    Interesting stuff. :)

  • At 11:33 AM, Blogger PinksandBluesGirls said…

    That is absolutely unreal! Very interesting!! Thanks for sharing this blog! I'm forwarding this on to my husband.

  • At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "At least we no longer torture and imprison, disregard and condemn the different, the unique, the retarded and the mad." ...well, at least not in the U.S. - overtly, anyway. Some other places in the developing world - maybe yes. Sigh.

  • At 8:50 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I think it's important we celebrate the differences, the 'imperfect brains', the nuances that make some kids act differently from what is expected. When we try to squish everyone into the same round hole we are losing a lot.

  • At 3:54 PM, Blogger Mama Smurf said…

    That video is amazing....

    as is your post! Well said!

  • At 6:10 PM, Blogger Kerry McKibbins said…

    just amazing.

  • At 8:43 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    That bugged the hell out of me when Paula called that kid a savant. But then again, it's Paula Abdul. Grain of salt and all that.

  • At 6:02 PM, Blogger luckyzmom said…

    Holy crap! is all I could say watching the clip. Savants have always fascinated me. Thanks for sharing.


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