This morning I was looking for the website of the National Institute of Mental Health. I searched by acronym but I wasn't getting it quite right. I tried "NIHM" for some reason and was thrilled to find the website for the New Iceland Heritage Museum. Trying again with "NIMS," I was captivated for several minutes reading the sites for FEMA's National Incident Management System and Japan's National Institute for Materials Science.
Finally I got it right with NIMH (right above the link for National Institute of Medical Herbalists and NiMHbattery.com) but by then I'd forgotten why I was searching for it.
But I wanted to make a point about mental health and curiosity. There's a blurb on the radio that talks about staving off Alzheimer's by a lifetime of learning and exercising the gray matter. I'm for that. That's my strategy, although there's been some suggestion that I'm already losing the battle.
I'm currently reading Lakoff's "Philosophy In the Flesh." One of the examples Lakoff uses to show that our construct of reality is physiologically-based, is the concept of color. Color doesn't exist as an objective reality outside of the brain. Color is a psychological experience created when external stimuli tickle the receptors in the eye, sending signals zooming up the optic nerve to be turned into an experience of color by the visual cortex. I remember this from my undergraduate psychology class, Sensory and Perceptual Processes.
I love this idea. There's a delight in anything that tweaks our assumed notions about reality. Kind of like finding out that the Flight Sim team is made up of real people and not borg units.
So, I'm way off topic but I'm really not. The point is that the world is such a fascinating place full of connected information and six-degrees-of-separated people, that there's no reason to ever get bored...or senile.
My dad will turn 85 years old next month. He's one of the most computer-savvy people I know, all self-taught very late in life. He can program in Excel. One of his hobbies is astronomy and he'll spend hours creating spreadsheets with formulas that calculate star positions. He does it just for fun. He's also an 1100-hour private pilot and enjoys flying the 737 in Flight Simulator.
Dad's getting pretty creaky these days and has clearly slowed way down from being the perpetual-motion machine he was even five years ago. But he never stops.
I hope that his persistence is genetic but I'm not taking any chances. I'll keep being curious, thank you very much. Now, why was I looking for the NIMH website?
Great post, Brian. My good friend Roy Wilbanks (who is 62 years young) has told me many times that he enjoys learning new things to keep his brain cells stimulated. He is currently finishing up getting his multi-engine IFR and commercial ratings. He has often mentioned how difficult it all is at times, but he is determined to see it all through.
I've introduced him to Flight Simulation - he has had a bit of a hard time getting used to flying on a desktop, but he probably would be much better if he had a full yoke and pedal set-up (which he says he'll get early in 2006) ... joysticks just don't do FS true justice!