Talk About It

The computer claims the outside temperature is 66°F right now; that would be delightful, except that the humidity is 92%. A few moments ago, I went outside to experience 66°F at 92% humidity. I expected the experience to be somewhat disappointing; I thought the high humidity would mask the comfort of the temperature. I was wrong. It felt wonderful. Even though there was not even a hint of a breeze, the temperature felt wonderful. I barely even noticed the high humidity. Usually, when the air is dead still, as it is now, temperatures have to be considerably lower than “normal” to feel comfortable. But not so this morning. I encourage everyone who is able to experience 66°F at 92% humidity, when the air is absolutely still, to do just that. Experience it. And talk about it.


As people age, they tend to repeat themselves. Their conversations sometimes seem to have been recorded on a loop; though the words may be slightly different, the content varies only slightly. These repetitions may occur over the course of a few days or, as time marches on, over the course of a few seconds. Between those extremes, repetitions take place with increasing frequency and with decreasing time between them.  To the mind whose ear is exposed to high-speed repetitions, the exposure can be maddening. But one’s frustration must be tempered with understanding of the reality of what is happening to the brain. Virtually all people go through various degrees of the phenomenon. Understanding and kindness should be one’s reaction, not unchecked frustration. How easy it is, though, to condemn a lack of understanding in others while demonstrating it in oneself.

As I contemplate my experiences listening to a story for the umpteenth time, I wonder whether repetitive telling is an indication of the importance of the story to the teller. Or does it, I wonder, illustrate a limitation on the number and/or depth of topics available in the teller’s brain? Or, maybe, both? These questions are based not only on curiosity born of observing others, but of curiosity and fear that arise from recalling my own behaviors. And, in answer to my own questions, based on my own experience as a story-teller, I think it’s a bit of both. The stories must be important to me and, therefore, telling them to others in my sphere must be important because I want others to understand who I am. Repetitive telling is a measure of their importance. Yet repetition must also be an sign of decay; mental decay reduces the number and depth of topics available for conversation.

This is all supposition, of course, though it may be based in part on past reading about the effects of aging and its impact on both the individual and people in the individual’s sphere. I often wonder whether my curiosity is fueled by my own intellect or by my exposure to others’ thinking? Who knows? I should be satisfied to know I can still think, whether my thoughts are spurred by my own intellect or by others’ thinking. I should be, but I’m not. I want to know more. I want to know so much more than I know. The human brain, I think, has capacities far exceeding any we have measured heretofore. We have not yet unlocked the doors to that vast empty space where knowledge can be kept at the ready. We may never unlock the doors; we may never even find the doors so we can attempt to break them down with brute force. Oh, to be able to live and observe, from a safe and comfortable distance, for the nex thousand years.


Enough for now. This morning we will go to church.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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