Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Problem With Brains

I had a weird dream the other night.  I dreamt that I went back to high school (yes, at 33, as if going back to college as an adult isn't embarrassing enough).  My friend Sara was there and she told me all about her life, how she had two kids with a mutual friend of ours but he wasn't ready to commit.  She was madly in love and kept waiting for him to figure things out.  I woke up the moment I realized that I had to tell her that he was already married.

These blast-from-the-past dreams are so bizarre, pulling random people and events out of a hat and throwing them together like some kind of plot generator for soap opera writers.  I mean, these are people I haven't talked to in 16 years, other than the occasional "lol" on a Facebook post.  My question is this:  How can the brain assimilate all of this random information and combine it in such a way that it makes total logical sense (at least until you wake up and try to recount the story to someone over breakfast)? Does it not make you wonder what other information we take in that makes absolutely no sense, yet our brain turns it into logic?  Frankly, I feel like I'm handing atheists the perfect argument - so much of religion consists of believing slightly outrageous things.  The philosopher Kierkegaard (as opposed to the rock band Kierkegaard, I suppose - why did I think that needed a qualifier?  How many Kierkegaards can there be?), he said that in order to reconcile the paradoxes in Christianity, a person would have to make a leap of faith.  The brain is completely capable of accepting these paradoxes, and I think it's a good thing - my life is better because I am able to believe in the existence of God, for example, and various other faith-based things.

However, the brain completely lets us down when it comes to other paradoxes it believes.  A person can ignore vast amounts of proof and instead latch onto one idea that resonates with what they already believe.  Standing by yourself in a crowded room (on a bad day), it's easy to agree with the idea "I have no friends," despite proof to the contrary.  And we've all seen the havoc caused by the completely illogical belief that "I deserve to be the next American Idol."   Some irrational thoughts work and some are destructive, but the brain seems to welcome them all.

So after I woke up, I left a note on Sara's Facebook wall, telling her about this dream I had.  And this spawned my other weird-dream-related thought:  what, exactly, is the correct response when someone tells you they dreamed about you?  Because you know what?  It's pretty creepy, when you think about it.  It feels like my brain is stalking people without my permission.  Keeping track of their habits, filing them away until some unsuspecting night when, without warning, my brain attacks.  Fortunately, both of the objects of my brain's obsession thought the dream was pretty funny.  Or if not actually funny, then at least mildly amusing and, also, harmless.  And that's good enough for me.  Can you imagine how hard it would be to file a restraining order against someone's brain?  Seriously, that thing cannot be controlled all the time.

Brains.  What are you going to do?  You can't live with them, and you really, really can't live without them.


Michaelbrenr said...

Hahaha! You crack me up, Em!

Rachel @ MWF Seeking BFF said...

I always have that same question re: how do you tell someone you dreamt about them, and how should they react. I often have dreams about work (just what I want, to think about work in my sleep). And then, because I have no filter, I see some guy the next day and say "I dreamt about you last night!" and they look really really uncomfortable. And then there's no way to say "It wasn't a sex dream!!" without making the whole situation even more uncomfortable.

Emily said...

Who needs filters anyways? They are highly overrated. Besides, you can't be a decent blogger with a filter - can you imagine how boring that would be? :)