Ideas Must Flow, not Overgrow

“Since you are what you eat,” a squirrel said, “I guess I am nuts.” I am paraphrasing here the joke that Joan Borysenko brings up in her article, “Move it or Lose it: Why Exercise makes you smarter.” Borysenko stresses the importance of exercise not only for our physical but also our psychological well-being. When we exercise, she states, our brain actually grows new neurons and rewires its circuits, making it easier to adapt to changes, to grow, to expand beyond our comfort ones.

In addition to the “you are what you eat” paradigm though, I want to stress the fact that “you are what you think” deserves equal attention. Therefore, along with the physical exercises that help you renew and rewire your brain, it is also important to constantly keep your mind  open to new ideas. They should be flowing freely through your mind like water of a clear spring, not the stagnant water of an algae-overgrown lake. Such lakes suffocate as time passes, and so do our minds when we let them overgrow with old, unjustified, deeply rooted convictions from 10, 20, 30 years ago. So as we age, we can become rigid, stale, unyielding, or wiser, more emphatic, more understanding.

And it is superbly easy to keep our mind from overgrowing with old ideas. Anyone can do that. In fact, many children do that, but then they grow out of it while they learn to please and to adjust to the norms and rules of the world around them. What is the “that” and “it” that I refer to? Questioning. Only when we never take anything for granted, only when we reevaluate our thoughts, can we remain open-minded. Really? Is that so?



Karo Caran, the Rainbow Poetess, is a poet and a non/fiction writer. Her novel, "Breaking the silence: A story in paintings" focuses on the censorship of art and gay relationships in the postwar, communist Poland. Her poetry-based memoir, "Life in a Footnotes" will be published this summer.
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