Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rage Against The Dying Of The Light

An ancient tree stands next to the Alamo. If trees could speak...

Lately I've been doing memory sprints; learning Japanese words, hundreds of complex kanji symbols, 15-minute classical bagpipe tunes (piobaireachd), and committing the dosages and characteristics of 80 some-odd pre-hospital drugs. At almost 45-years old this is not as easy as it used to be, but age and wisdom have made me crafty. Instead of the brute force and ignorance of youth I find myself using mnemonics, flash cards, rhymes, stories, pattern review, disciplined repetition, constant review, anything that will help embed the needed information into my brain cells for later recall.

As humans age the adage, "If you don't use it you'll loose it', holds true for both mental and physical capacities. I've seen 80-year old Ironman triathletes, musicians that can play several hundred complex tunes, and people that easily speak 8 or 9 different languages. Seemingly there is no limit to the human capacity, only those that are self-imposed through doubt, neglect, or resignation.

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

1 comment:

Gene said...

Interesting you doing this! I just finished a book on brain plasticity and it goes into detail why we learn certain ways and how we can stop the mental aging process. Book is called "The Brain that Changes itself" by Norman Doidge, MD. And now just like going to the gym I have my brain activities as well.