Donovan’s Brain, and Mine Too

IT’S ALL in your MIND…..(or…What’s on your mind, as this blank space always asks when I come to it.)

What is the first thing that you can remember? That’s my question for now. What’s your first memory? Our mind is a funny thing and they say we only use about 10% of what we have. But just humor me and try and frame a mental picture of your first memory. If you can do it that will eventually lead me to my other question.

See, the reason it interests me is that I often wonder if everyone else’s brain functions about the same as mine. Most of my childhood memories are rather fuzzy around the edges. Do you know what I mean? It’s sort of like trying to look at something right after you have just woke up, and you still have a ton of “sleep” in your eyes. Either that, or maybe it’s like trying to remember a dream which you had the night before. The dream is really clear when you first wake up, but if you EVER want to remember it, you should take the advice of dream specialists and write it down right then. If not, it’s going to be fuzzy in the morning. Fuzzy around the edges, just like those really early childhood memories. Sometimes I wonder if some of my “memories’ are not really dreams. Is that possible? I think it might be. As we go through life, and we live through so many different things, it may just be that some of our more vivid dreams get mixed up in our brain with reality. That would be a hoot wouldn’t it? I really think this is a good exercise though, because the more I have consciously thought about the past, the more memories starting bubbling to the surface like bubbles on a pound full of snapping turtles. The more I try and separate reality from fantasy, the more sure I am that it’s not always possible to do so.

Well for starters, the very first thing I remember is having to go potty really, really bad. We lived in a house back in 1953, when I was three years old that was originally a duplex that had been turned into a regular house. I remember that it confused me, because both sides of the house seemed to be the same, except the living room furniture was in one side and the bedroom furniture in the other. I remember thinking that the rooms were the same and that when I blinked my eyes, or went to sleep (especially if I got carried from one side to the other during that time) that the furniture was rearranging itself! Strange, right? But, back to pottying. I had to go really, really bad, and nobody was around to “direct” me to the correct place, so down went the pants and… can guess the rest. The part I remember the most, was getting my rear end tanned by my Pop! I never, ever did that again!

I also remember having a pair of Easter bunnies that same year. Dad brought them home in a box, and we took them out back to eat grass and they got away from us and ran up under the car. It took Daddy forever to catch them, and I didn’t know what some of the words he was using meant, but I used one of them later on when I rode my tricycle down the front steps. My Dad was secretly tickled I said it to the Dr. who was sewing up my head, but he still blamed it on my Mom. I can’t remember what happened to those damn rabbits though. I think Dad probably got tired of them making a mess and got rid of them one night while the furniture was changing itself around.

Another vivid thing during that same year I believe was during the summer we would catch “lightning bugs” (fireflies to a lot of you) We would put them in a jar and I would take them to a dark place and try to use them like a flashlight! Usually, we would let them go before going in for the night, but once we forgot and I came out the next morning, and couldn’t figure out why the bugs wouldn’t light up. I didn’t realize that after being in a closed jar with no hole all night long, they were NEVER going to light up again! My Dad told me that they were not sleeping, that they were dead forever. That was my first realization that things sometimes really cease to live.

I know that I lived the first two years of my life at my Grandparent’s house. My Dad didn’t get out of the Navy until 1952, so my Mom and I stayed with them. I have seen pictures of myself at that age, but try as I might, try so very hard, I cannot bring up any memories of any of those times before 1953 when we moved back to Trion, where I still live today. I wish I could remember those times. What would really be neat would be to be able to remember anything and everything that ever happened to you. To just be able to sit down and say, “Now I am going to remember December of 1956 when I was six years old, and what happened at Christmas that year!” That would be a miracle wouldst it? Scientists say that everything is stored right up there in that little 3 pounds of gray jelly we call our brain. That wonderful, misunderstood and not fully understood organ that runs us. I have tried everything from meditation, to “commanding” my brain to remember, to closing my eyes and straining and squinting but I still can’t make it happen! Are all of you folks like that, or is it just me!!! I would like to know, so I can claim a deficiency if I am the only one.

Memory and the brain. They really are a strange thing. I remember one time when my Grandfather was in his last year of life. He didn’t know anybody, or anything much. He was afflicted with some type of memory loss which was permanent and very severe…as a result of a stroke perhaps, or of hardening of the arteries. When we went to visit him, he would just sit around and kind of “babble” like a tape recorder randomly playing back snippets of conversation recorded over years and years of time. Nothing made much sense. He always seemed like he was glad to see us, and sad to see us go…but…things were just not perking right. My Grandma was sitting there one day and talking about one of their relatives, and Grandpa spoke up all of the sudden and said: “Cleve’s dead” (I think it was Cleve….it might have been Pierce…my memories not so good….) My Grandma answered him back telling him how crazy he was, because she had just talked to Uncle Cleve that morning. That afternoon when we took Grandma back home, she found out that Cleve had died right around the time we were all at the Nursing home. So, the brain’s funny isn’t it. I would have bet you a million dollars that Grandpa couldn’t count to ten anymore, but somehow, someway he knew his old hunting buddy had died.

Maybe not being able to recall everything that has ever happened to us is a blessing. We might NOT be able to be selective and just remember the good things. We might also HAVE to remember the bad things too. There are a LOT of those things that I would rather keep shoved back into the tiny recesses and crevasses of my mind. Yes, my mind. When all is said and done, our mind IS what we are isn’t it? Even when Grandpa’s was taken mostly away, he was given a gift of sorts to replace what had been taken from him. I guess our spirit sort of resides there. I suppose the part of us which is our personality and which makes us us resides there. It’s about the only part of us they can’t replace with a transplant still! Shoot, you can have a ticker transplant and go right on being yourself, but a diving accident can turn you into something you would rather not think about! It makes you wonder about all those people who do have that kind of damage. Have their souls, what made them who they were, already fled the premises and just left the empty shell behind? I suppose there are many who doubt there is a soul…but I still believe in it. I still believe that “spark” of creation is still there.

Well, there’s the challenge for those of you who want to think about it. Can you remember everything? What was your first memory? Would you like to be able to have total recall? When our old brain is gone, like Grandpa’s was, are we still us? I think so….what do you think? Most of all I would like to know…how are your memories…are they as clear as a wonderfully taken photograph, or as gray around the edges as an out of focus picture?

Oh by the way. Does anybody remember a Science Fiction thriller from the 50’s named “Donavan’s Brain?” It was about this guy whose brain was taken out of him while he was still alive, and put into this thing that looked all the world like a ten gallon fish aquarium! They had all kind of wires hooked up to it, and had it connected to a computer looking thing. Ol’ Donovan’s Brain could still “communicate” and eventually took over some folks, if I remember right, making ‘em do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. It was a hoot! I hope to heck they NEVER learn to do that. I personally hope they never learn to “store” our minds on computers either. Never able to “download” the electrical impulses from our brains onto some kind of infernal storage unit, to be put into a program so we can still communicate with the living. I don’t wanna’ be a machine.

I know for sure a lot of really rich people are planning on something happening. Walt Disney is on “ice” as is Ted Williams and quite a few other folks with the dollars who thing there’s a chance for a human resurrection one of these days.

When it’s time for me to go, I want to go. I wonder, what will my LAST thought will be? Whatever it is, I won’t be able to share it with any of you guys that are left behind, so I guess I better concentrate on sharing what I want to now, while I still can!! Love and Peace to you all.

Who I am

Going down this winding road since October 1950, I’ve seen many things and done plenty more.

My opinions on life have stayed pretty much the same all along, at least in my deep down, secret heart of hearts.

I think on some days perhaps I should evolve, and try a different philosophy, but then after some additional thought I say the hell with that. I am who and what I am, and that’s pretty much it.

Where I used to be a gripey young man, now I’m a gripey old man.

Where I used to be a collector, now I’m a junker ( some say I’ve reached hoarder status, but I don’t think I’m there yet).

Where I used to barely scrape by, now I scrape lower.

Where I used to respect a lot of people, now I respect fewer. (A lot of good ones have died).

Where I used to be religious, I am now spiritually independent.

Things I used to be super afraid of, don’t scare me much anymore.

Where I used to love music, I now need it to survive.

Where I used to be insecure, I still am…..

I could go on, but I won’t. This self examination is over for now.

I think it’s worthwhile for everyone to look at themselves and be honest with themselves about their status as a human being. As you can see, I’m certainly no saint. Not even close to a Nobel peace prize. But, I do still love.

I love my family, my friends, those who used to call me friend but now don’t. I love life, nature, fresh air, good food, little kids, play dough, “The Secret Life of Pets” baking with my wife, going to the beach, ice cream….and so much more.

In spite of my failings and foibles, I love this life.

I hope all of you do too.