Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Be Careful How You Age

We have quite a few kids roaming around our main church campus.

A preschool, a school, and a non-profit Community foundation that reaches out to at risk students all use our main facility. So there's a lot of yelling and screaming (and that's just the staff) all in the name of play and fun.

I was walking through the Atrium on my way to
lunch when I spotted a lone kid--probably 8 or 9 years old. He was in his own world; spinning on the floor, making up some game, singing a bit of a song. He was in his own imaginary world. It was beautiful.

So I wondered, why don't we adults do that? I mean yeah, maybe we all sing in shower or when our car is stopped at a intersection (until the guy in the car next to us happens to look over). But why don't we use our imagination more?

Brain science has determined that physiologically, the young live out of their imagination while the old live out of their memory.

Now would we want a world that's all imagination? Or a world that's all memory?

Obviously, no. But as we age, are we "stuck" living only from memory--as in reminiscing about the good old days, the way things "used to be", etc?? Do we become captives of our past? Do we stop being able to dream?

Without getting into the details of brain development (not my area of expertise), there is a period of brain development during the Junior High years that in laymen's terms is known as "use it or lose it." The brain is determining which connections to use so quickly that the ones that aren't consistently encouraged through repetition are lost. Use it or lose it.

So if you can't spell as an adult, chances are you either (a) smoked something illegal for a very long time or (b) didn't lay down the neural pathways for spelling via repetition when you were in Junior High.

But here's the thing. The brain remains "plastic." We can still shape it, encourage it, send it in down new pathways, expand it. Age does literally bring some calcifying of the brain, but we can resist that. We can keep imagining, like that 8 year old, that everything is open to us. Everything is possible. There isn't a song we can't sing, an enemy we can't fight, a game we can't make up. I personally sign up for putting 8 year olds on advisory boards everywhere.

BlockquoteIn the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."
Acts 2:17 (quoting Joel 2:28)

1 comment:

Eric Paul said...

This reminds of that Tom Hanks movie "BIG."