I started a book this week on what makes people click.
There isn’t much romance to making the conscious decision to follow a link on a Web site — or so you’d think. In fact, there may be. The author begins by explaining that we have three brains. She simplifies the science behind the idea by calling these brains the old, the mid and the new.
Apparently, the old brain is in charge of our survival and is constantly assessing our surroundings, deciding what’s safe for us. It’s also in charge of the automatic functions: breathing, digestion, movement, etc. The mid brain processes emotions. The new brain is what we refer to as the “mind” and is in charge of having thoughts, playing music, processing language, reading, speaking, etc.
The brains are referred to in this way based on their evolutionary order of development, with the newest brain having just most recently developped.
“It’s your new brain that is reading this book,” writes the author, and at that, I close the book, having just reached my stop. I look up at the clock on the train before exiting the car. It’s 8 p.m. again. (This too must have been the new brain.)
On my walk home, I continue to think about the brains. Is it the old brain that processes the darkness and glances back on hearing the tiniest creak in the pavement? Is it the new brain that floods memories of others walking next to me on this same path of cold and darkness that the old brain is taking in? And is it the mid brain finally that makes its presence known by a quick pang, a momentary feeling of loss at the thought of boy having walked with me on this same path just back in August. (Certainly, it’s the new brain that tells it to stop feeling that, and lucky for me, Mid listens.)
And surely it’s the new brain elaborating now. But were it not for Mid, there wouldn’t be any feeling, and without feeling, there is no writing. And without Old telling me to hurry up already with this entry because my fingers are as cold as my toes as I type this, New wouldn’t pitch in with an apt recommendation that I wear socks right after I hit the Publish button. Then Mid raises its hand again, and I burst in laughter at the thought that I am not in control (a thought that New is surely now making me recount) and I never have been the brain behind this operation as I always thought. It’s my brains, in fact, who are — the ultimate trio.
Fine then. Brains, I give up the reins. Here, I’d like to thank you three for making my existence interesting.
And since this isn’t me doing the thanking, but one — or perhaps all three — of my brains, I wonder if thanking themselves means they are grateful, self-reliant or haughty.
Or perhaps all three. After all, we’re multi-faceted.