Stretch Your Mind
I met a friend for lunch the other day. Not really a planned thing, we had bumped into each other a couple days earlier and had made tentative plans on the spot. Kind of like “I’m gonna be here, at this time,” kind of thing. So anyway, he was telling me about this neighbor of his who recently moved in next door. Kind of a weird guy, but not in a bad way. Sometimes when you get a new neighbor, especially in a small apartment complex where you know you are going to run into this person on a regular basis, it can be a little interesting at first. Everybody wants to see who the new guy is.
It’s kind of like when you start a new semester at school. You have a whole bunch of new classes, and you aren’t sure what your classmates will be like, or any of your teachers. And you know that the first week of school you usually don’t do much anyway, so there aren’t any worries there. So you are pretty much free to let your curiosity roam and imagine some possible futures. Of course, that usually only last a couple of days, until you realize that it’s just another set of classmates, and another teacher.
Of course, sometimes you get lucky and sit next to a really cute girl or guy, or your teacher is particularly entertaining, somebody that actually enjoys their job. But more often than not it’s simply a matter of getting to know new people that turn out to be pretty similar to the old people.
So anyway this guy was into all kinds of exotic artwork from various different countries. He had traveled quite a bit and collected little pieces from here and there. When my friend saw him moving into his apartment, he couldn’t figure out exactly what the guy was all about. He saw him carrying in these different carvings and stuff, and had to come up with a story of what the reason was behind him. Maybe he was into voodoo, or maybe he was a professor. Every time the guy would go downstairs to his moving van, he’d bring up another box of stuff. And my friend couldn’t help but watch the whole time. His moving van was parked underneath his window, and when he walked to his apartment, he had to pass his big front window.
I was reading this book once on hypnosis. It was a hard book to read, or at least to pay attention to. It was written to give an objective overview of hypnosis and what it was, but the author also wanted to give the reader a subjective experience of what if felt like to feel the first hand effects of hypnosis. But he did it in an odd sort of way. He would be writing about some clinical aspect of hypnosis, then he would switch right into to a firsthand experience of it. What made it so interesting was that he never let the reader know when he was switching. So you’d be reading this, following along, and all of a sudden you would stop and wonder exactly what this was, and where this was going. Like you are sitting there, trying to remember what it was you were reading before you got to this part, and although you thought there was some sort of connection, you aren’t exactly sure what it is, now, reading this. But because it’s easy to find things like that interesting, you just keep on reading.
He was saying that when the mind looks at something that is unfamiliar, it is much easier to put it into a category that already exists. Some experts believe that there is a discreet time in a person’s life, when the categories aren’t completely labeled yet. This is up to about 7 years old. Not that we can’t create new categories after the age of seven, but around that time, the brain switches into “put it into it’s appropriate category” mode from “make a new category mode,” which can make for some interesting hallucinations, like my friend experienced when seeing this guy bringing all those weird things into his apartment.
The fun stuff happens when the brain finds a couple of possible categories, but there is nothing else that suggests what category to put something in. If you’ve ever had the experience of eating or drinking something, and getting one thing while you are expecting something else, you can understand this. Like if you grabbed what you thought was a bottle of ice water, and it turned out to be seven up, there’s be a brief pause while the brain figured out what in the heck was going on. You see the water, you decide that it’s water, so the brain already prepares and taste buds, and everything to receive water, but when the seven up hits your mouth, the brain has to back track and switch all of it’s reference information. That can take up to a second, and during that second your brain is temporarily off line. It’s actually pretty cool.
But after he talked to him, he did turn out to be a hobbyist. He liked to travel, and he would just pick stuff up at random, usually on his way to the airport out of wherever he had visited. If he were into furniture, he would have all kinds of different furniture pieces. If had been into music, for example, he may have had different musical instruments from different countries.
But because he’d picked up all his stuff in a completely random method, none of it fell into the same category, which made watching him move in so interesting. He was just some goofball who collected a bunch of random stuff from bunch of random places.
The interesting thing is that he told me that after watching this guy move for a couple hours, and just feeling his brain be sent in all different directions as he tried to figure out the connection between all this different stuff, he said he had this weird feeling for a couple of days afterward. Like he somehow felt he had more room in his brain or something, like it was stretched out somehow.
He said that he was able to remember things that he’d thought he’d forgotten, and was able to remember other things in ways that were different than he had originally experienced them.