Less Memory, Less Focus - Better Brain?
I've been really trying to think about what my goals should be for my learning as I understand the importance of clear and specific goals that are within the realm of accomplishment but are not currently attainable and all I keep coming back to is synaptic pruning. I'll circle back.
In the last post I had some fun with a nootropic company that markets a product that has ad words like Focus and Memory. What is wrong with this? Those words are not inherently good. Our brains remember traumatic experiences so that we don't repeat them which makes sense but in my life I spent a lot of time and drank a lot of beer trying to forget. It is not simply memory that benefits us. I saw a show once some time ago about people who have the ability to remember very specific details for years back. It was amazing. If you asked them a question about what happened on a specific day 15 years ago they could tell you. The strange thing is that none of the people where particularly successful. Some even complained wishing they could forget. You see we connect neuro ability to function, this is our attempt at merging logical consistency and practicality which I believe to be oppositional concepts and have basically been building a would view around that idea since college. Some people my have amazing abilities but that may not mean they are functional abilities. Much like the people with amazing memories probably had a flawed synaptic pruning system. This isn't a bad thing it just recognizes that there is an equal cost for everything (which sounds simple and seems to be one of the most eulsive truths flying around the ether today)
In the same way the cost of being focused is the loss of your peripheral vision. I know this all too well as I often focus on things so much that I miss out on very obvious things. I am sick right now. I have no voice which hasn't happened in forever. How did this happen when I am so healthy because I have been focused on the brain and mitochondrial optimization and my health blog and not on how damp my little apartment was getting. You see I don't really care that much about being comfortable because I'm so focused on the ideas in my head that my outside world is kind of just there sometimes. It has been rainy and the past few years here in California rain has been a rare thing. So when my apartment got a little damp with condensation on the windows I thought no big deal. Well, here I am. I got a dehumidifier and dried my place out and it is way better but this was a lesson for me. I laughed thinking that I could die of pneumonia with a healthy brain book in my hand. Focus also has its down side. These are not bits of information shared by nootropic sellers. My focus doesn't make you better it makes you different and if you are bored with who you are then different is better but not in the way that you are actually more. Advertising always promises that you will be more than you are implying you are not enough right now and forgetting that nature has been perfecting products like eggs and sunlight for millions of years. (I know getting off track here sorry)
I often choose quality over quantity. I do this relationally as I tend to not be a group person. Not better just the path I've chosen. Doesn't mean that its not lonely sometimes but its what I've chosen. I could choose quantity, guess what it would cost me.....quality and right now anyway I'm not bored with quality.
The take away from this is that the brain has many built in balance systems that were functionally established over millions of years. They are not objectively optimal and they are not even functionally optimal as our environment is changing far faster than we can evolve. So don't fall into traps set by others trying to get you to buy into their idea of better or to buy into their product promising you more focus or more memory. Have fun with the process of figuring out who you are and what you prefer. We are very impressed with savant types and at the same time is given the opportunity to trade with them we would not. They also suffer a great deal with their brilliance. Sometimes the best place to be is where you are, knowing its fun to think about where your not, who your not. Just don't forget where you are and who you are. Dr. Manhattan in the Watchman movie is a good example of this, also the movie The Fountain which is my absolute favorite brilliantly shows that there is no escape from this reality. (I constantly try to not just blog about The Fountain) The net can't catch the water and the water can't catch the net. My personal growth is that instead of that reality causing me to suffer I'm comforted by it. Now the two are dancing.
So for me the fun will be this fractal variation and repetition between focus and my peripheral. The natural brain is set to balance these these mechanisms. Our nootropics, drugs, tech and even or modern programming by people who know how our brains work are trying to take you out of the equation. Choose your own path, own it. Realize that the more we focus the less quantity we see but the more quality. As always this is as much for the reader as the writer.
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Rob Alexander is on a journey to learn not just about health but everything else.
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