Did you ever wonder what your brain thinks when you are not paying attention? The brain is made up of three major parts; the cerebrum which is the part of the brain I'm about to talk about, as well as the cerebellum which controls balance and coordination and the brain stem which controls the automatic functions - breathing, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure.
The cerebrum is the part which does the thinking, remembering, problem solving, feeling and movement. The cerebrum is the part which we are conscious of. Now of course there are many more parts to the brain and much more detail about the functions of each part. I'm not here today to give a lesson on the brain function, just where my thoughts led me last night.
So, last night I was, as has become usual, lying awake in the wee small hours. I wake at around 2am each morning and then can't go back to sleep for about three hours. It's very annoying as it makes me tired and irritable the next day. With this in mind I was determined to break the wakeful habit and banish my old friend insomnia. I decided to do this by using one of my old methods, counting.
I have rules of course about counting to get myself to sleep. The idea is that I bore myself to sleep so I count very methodically. Whenever my brain goes wandering off on its own I start again from the beginning. Usually I don't get very far over 100 because I have to start over so many times.
Last night I didn't get to 30 for about two and a half hours. I would get to 28 or 29 and then realise that my brain had gone off for a stroll down a little used corridor and was thinking something totally weird so I'd have to start again. After a couple of hours of this I was really seriously wondering just what goes on inside my brain that my conscious self has no inkling of.
I mean, I caught my brain wondering why potatoes come in so many different types and if those types all taste just a little bit different. And who was it anyway who decided that a potato was a food that could be cooked and eaten. Who was it decided cooking was a great idea and who came up with different food combinations? Back to the beginning again, 1 2 3....
I can't remember all of the strange things my brain considered in those three hours, I'm just recounting to you now the ones I can remember. Sadly, the more bizarre thoughts that made me go 'ARE YOU SERIOUS MIND???' have vanished with the morning light and all that is left are the more normal ones, such as a green and black caterpillar climbing up a plant (in my imagination) and I wondered why it was decided that caterpillars should exist anyway. Of course they are food for birds - but which bird first looked at a caterpillar and decided it looked good to eat.
It wasn't all questions though. I had the usual money worries, worries about where I will be in a year's time, all those things. But in between were all these weird thoughts - pieces of the sky turning into butterflies, a sudden failure of gravity and everything floating which in turn caused agonising about which things would float higher without gravity or would they all float at the same height in which case it would get very crowded. How long would it take for this town to be reclaimed by the desert if it was abandoned. If I planted a bougainvillea at the base of this apartment building would it eventually climb up to my balcony on the fifth floor and if it did would its branches be strong enough for me to climb down on - and just how did the writer of Jack and the Beanstalk ever come up with that idea, was he drunk every day for a year?
By the end I was actually imagining my mind finding dusty tunnels - I was picturing my thoughts inside my mind exploring twists and turns of brain matter and beginning to seriously doubt my sanity. In case you want to know what this looked like, it was a miniature brain rolling through dull yellow tunnels of brain matter and finding random thoughts tucked away in pockets on the walls which it plucked out with little blood vessel hands. The lighting was very dim inside my brain which seemed appropriate as I think my brain power was on extremely dim wattage.
At this point I had been lying awake for three hours, and decided it was time to play hardball with my brain. I started counting in earnest, colouring each number in rainbow colours and spelling it inside my head and picturing the background to each number. Anything to stop the random thoughts. Finally it worked, or perhaps exhaustion got to me and I slept.
When I woke this morning I still had the thought, where does the brain go and what does it think when we are not actively using it? Dreams come from the subconscious which is always active and apparently quite strange. I know when I write it comes from somewhere I am not exactly connected to. I never know what I'm going to write until I see it on the screen. My fingers just move and my mind is still. The only mental activity I am aware of is the script of words scrolling across my eyes.
That's kind of weird all on its own. Writing is a creative process and yet I don't consciously connect to that part of my brain that produces what I write. Do other writers experience this? Is it the same with artists and sculptors and any other sort of creative person? Or is it just me, is there a tiny other me living in my brain that controls that creative part and it goes kicking around the dusty brain corridors looking for ideas? Or is there some being that is sucking out the electrical energy my brain produces when I write and that's why I get so tired after writing for several hours without a break? It's at this stage of my thoughts, lying in bed this morning, that I decided it was getting a little bit Stephen King and perhaps I should stop thinking about it.
So I am quite possibly losing my mind, or maybe its the effect of sleep deprivation. I'm seriously considering taking an Antinal tonight, not because I have a stomach upset - I've pretty much adjusted to the food here - but because one of the effects of Antinal is that it puts you to sleep. I'd like to sleep the night through, I really would...