Head Check

Two weeks into the lockdown, I said I was doing just fine. We are almost three months in now and I take it back. I am not fine. I don’t know what I am, but fine isn’t it. Resigned? Bummed? But mostly I just feel sad. What am I even saying? I don’t know. I’m not a writer. I’ll let a writer say it.

“You are hierarchical. That’s the older and more entrenched characteristic. We saw it in your closest animal relatives and in your most distant ones. It’s a terrestrial characteristic. When human intelligence served it instead of guiding it, when human intelligence did not even acknowledge it as a problem, but took pride in it or did not notice it at all… That was like ignoring cancer.”

Octavia E. Butler, Xenogenesis Trilogy

I watched this adorable video of a dad preparing his daughter for her first day of kindergarten. In front of the mirror, they spoke some affirmations.

  • I am strong
  • I am smart
  • I work hard
  • I am beautiful
  • I am respectful
  • I’m not better than anyone
  • Nobody’s better than me

I hear those last two lines in my head often. One time, when I was home by myself, I walked to a mirror and said them out loud.

So in the vein of learning and self improvement to help me treat my fellow peoples with kindness, I’ve started a book, The Willpower Instinct by Dr. Kelly McGonigal. In the first chapter she explains why humans developed a big prefrontal cortex: to have self control, to exercise judgment, to do the right thing, to delay gratification and not say things in the heat of the moment (I’m working on this one). Basically, it’s the part of the brain that keeps our inner assholes in check so we don’t get kicked out of the community and die alone in the wilderness. So I think it’s related to how I behave. I haven’t finished the book yet, but here are a few things she’s put in my toolbox already to help develop that prefrontal cortex and keep me from being a total asshole. Here’s to hoping some of these things grow my little braincells.

  • Meditate
  • Sleep
  • Breathe long sloooow breaths to increase variable heartrate
  • Exercise (I love her definition. Anything you’re doing that doesn’t involve eating and isn’t standing or sitting still, or laying about.)
  • Eat plants

I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m hoping there’s more. I need all the help I can get.

Finally I want to end with the wise words of Lizzo. “Why are (hu)men great ’til they gotta be great?” It’s easy to know the right thing to do, hard to do it sometimes.

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