For all the research I’ve been doing on the intricacies of brain function, right hemisphere vs. left hemisphere and neuron connections and such, I had a moment two weeks day that has, once again, reinvigorated my fascination with neuroplasticity and how it effects what’s going on with the rest of our bodies. I mean, I’m certainly not going to be getting a Ph.D. in Neurology or Neuroscience anytime soon, but if I were to say, sneak in the side door (you have to be … what’s the word … oh yeah, qualified to attend those things and get a name tag and stuff) and listen to an academic lecture by Sam Harris or good ol’ Dr. Puccioni, the neurosurgeon who cut my head open and removed all the gunk that was trying to kill me, I could bullshit my way through a conversation at the after party.
In a Facebook TBI group I follow, there was posted an image that got my gears turning.
In all my reading up on the brain and how I could potentially improve and enhance my brain’s functioning, not once did I put one simple scientific fact in the necessary context to understand the potential of my brain. The left hemisphere of your brain controls motor skills on the right side of your body and the right hemisphere of your brain controls motor skills on the left side of your body.
I have two big dents on the right side of my head. One is where the Pooch cut out a piece of skull to get at the big Fat Albert-sized abscess that sat on top of the bacteria that was gorging itself on my temporal lobe and hippocampus. The dent is at the front of my hairline where the Pooch cut out another silver dollar-sized drainage hole where any infection he missed could seep out through a little tube.
I know, I know, it’s pretty graphic stuff, but I’m trying to keep it PG-13. The actual craniotomy would be the NC-17 account of this procedure, so let’s just leave that behind, shall we?
What interested me was that part of the meme that says “it may resulting in thinking differently and becoming more creative.”
I’m a janitor and a good one. I shake my head still, a year after starting this job because in my darker moments, I think of that part of my resume that lists current employment and how it doesn’t quite match my education, let alone my work experience. However, over the last couple months, I’ve really been in the gutter about being dumped by my ex, about my parents having to financially support their 43 year-old son, about being a janitor, et.al. But that thing about thinking differently just by using my non-dominant hand, that peaked my interest. And since I rarely do anything half-assed, I started using my left hand for all the tasks throughout my workday. And when you’re a janitor, that’s a lot of tasks. I used my left hand to scrub toilet bowls. I used my left hand to stable my mop and guide with my right hand instead of the other way around. I used my left hand to wipe off mirrors and counter tops and steady the vacuum. Everything I did, I did lefty. And it completely changed the way I do my job.
Before, when I was using my dominant right hand, I hardly thought at all about what I was doing. Mopping, scrubbing toilets and wiping off countertops can get really, really dull. Using my left hand made me more present in the moment, more aware of what I was doing, and more mindful of doing it correctly and completely. I can’t say for certain if it made me a more creative person because I think I already have the creativity thing down pat. I already have two to three of my next blog posts swirling around up there, a curiosity about whether humanity’s current A.I./cybernetic technology would allow me to neurologically connect my dog’s brain to surgically attached, color-coordinated thumbs on his front legs so he could feed himself and haul is own butt down the three flights of stairs in my building and to go pee, in addition to mundane stuff like traffic laws and grocery lists. Going southpaw made me more mindful of tasks I already perform and eager to think up new ones I would have never even considered before. Think about it. When was the last time you took Pine Sol and a brillo pad to the inside of your trash cans or used a tooth brush to dust the inside of a key hole?
Here’s the kicker. Just by going lefty and mandating that I spend more time thinking about what I am doing right now´(once again, Zen to the rescue) I actually brought upon myself a better mood. I don’t know if going lefty stimulated the production of new brain cells on the right side of my brain or not. It did, however, express the give-a-crap-edness gene about my job I haven’t had for awhile and that made me feel great. So great, in fact, that it made me wonder if going southpaw would work for something else (see, no issues with curiosity here, Sarge.) So yesterday, I went to the batting cages.