Thursday, August 11, 2011

Minding the Decade of the Mind

Family house in Atlanta, GA
Skipped run, new opportunity
A couple of days ago I made the mistake of not taking time to go for a long run, which, as is typical for me, resulted in me not being tired when most sensible people would be. The side effect was a restless mind that wandered, roamed, and wondered about the twists, turns, and curves of various memories and thoughts at too late an hour.

To fill the time, I wrote emails, caught up on some news, and did some planning, but none of those things seemed to settle what had turned into a rather persistent bit of chatter in my head. I tried to ignore it, but when my mind gets busy like that, it has to be fed. And fed it I did.

Stiff by Mary Roach
I had been staying at my parent's house for a few days where exploring in and outside always proves an adventure. After a while of moving about the house, I found myself in one of the small libraries where I discovered a book I'd wanted to read for a while called Stiff by Mary Roach. Some years back I read her book Bonk and really liked her style of writing so this was quite a find. Where Bonk is about the "curious" science of sex and coupling, Stiff is about how cadavers are used in science.

The first line of the book absolutely put my restlessness into perspective: "The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken." 

There it is.

Types of relationships
It's funny how day-to-day we work hard. We manage multiple complicated relationships. We wrestle with dilemmas. We strive to do the right thing. We try to be the best we can be. We work through a bevy of emotions. But at the end of the day we can be reduced to carbon based matter on par with other organic material that make up our world. What makes us different?

Our minds, of course.

Following a passion
The mind is the most interesting, curious thing to me. How it forms. How it grows. How it changes and adapts. How it  resist things it doesn't want to do. How it stumbles and even falls when under pressure from stress, lack of sleep, and exhaustion. How it drums up a gazillion excuses. How it ceases to exist when the body no longer functions. How it drives behavior and emotion. How it responds to LOVE and to LOSS.

Meandering Mind
It's my deep fascination and passion for the mind that has driven me to learn, study, and try to achieve personally and professionally. So when I heard in the 1990's that President George H.W. Bush dubbed that period the Decade of the Brain and gave it loads of cash, I was thrilled. A ton of headway (sorry, kinda hokey pun) was made in neuroscience and other areas, and more is still coming out of that investment and research.

Then 2007 rolled around and a new project was launched called the Decade of the Mind. The seed for this project was $4B, and it's slated to last through 2022. 

The discoveries that resulted from the Decade of the Brain were groundbreaking so I was over-the-moon elated to learn a similar project had been funded for the mind. I felt inspired when I heard the Decade of the Mind project kicked off, and vowed that I would find a way to support it. 

Panel discussion
It was my personal goal to help fund it, but unfortunately that hasn't panned out  (yet) so in the meantime I thought I could report on it. Info on it seems sparse so check out this blog from time-to-time if you want to catch up on what's happening in that space. I'll write about it and other mind-related topics.

Living a dream
Having a dream larger than yourself is a powerful motivator. Some people want fame, fortune, opportunity to help others or they may want something closer to home like children, home ownership, or education.

What's the goal or passion that drives you and keeps you focused and energized? What's the one or two things that get you up in the morning and excited about your day? 

Are doing it? If not, what can you do to get the ball rolling. Life is short. 
Live fast with purpose...

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