The other night, I dreamed a man cut into the top of my head and removed my brain. He was wearing blue scrubs, cute little booties, and a mask—a surgeon, not a sadist. Although one can never be sure.
I’d gone to my doctor about neck pain. After several uncomfortable head turns, someone brought in and placed a scale on the exam table. My doctor supported and guided my head down to its metal surface.
Glancing at the scale several times, she punched numbers into her device, a deep furrow wedged between her brows, and sent me to the Imaging department for an MRI.
The next day, I walked into an exam room filled with doctors, oohing and aahing over my brain, whose image was glowing against the light box screen. I stared at it. Where was the brain I’d seen in cartoons and on Gray’s Anatomy? My brain was blackish-blue and swollen, as if someone had punched and then stabbed it a few times.
“Your neck isn’t the problem,” my doctor explained. “Your brain has become so engorged with information and thoughts, it’s ready to pop like a tick. We’ve been seeing this problem a lot lately. It’s surprising your neck hasn’t broken. We must do surgery right away.”
That very day, a surgery team removed my entire brain and wrung it out like a sponge, then hosed it down until it was pink and shiny. Only key information and good memories remained. When I woke up, my head felt as light as a feather. It was such a relief.
But a week later, I couldn’t raise my head and lay trapped in my bed. Rinse and repeat: surgery, brain removal, wringing of brain gunk into a sterile bucket, and I was good as new again. I was relieved until my doctor came into the room, grinding her teeth.
“We can’t keep doing this,” she said. “Your brain can’t withstand it. We need to find out why this is happening and put an end to it.”
Such a dream could mean many things. Overwhelm comes to mind. Or it could be a metaphor for all the self-help efforts I’ve tried over the years to feel better.
I was watching a video the other day where a woman advised people to build a life you want to settle into and spend some time with. Not one you want to escape.
How? I thought. I’ve been trying to do that for years! I’m not sure it’s my life I want to escape. It’s me! Or at least my brain and all the things going on up there and how often it lets me down.
What about a brain transplant? I thought. I want an atypical brain that knows how to manage a life in this baffling world. A brain that behaves and thinks happy thoughts. A brain that doesn’t shut down or spin or ping-pong when the world sounds, smells, and looks too busy. A brain that doesn’t panic over the constant too muchness.
However, I have stipulations for this new brain.
It must love reading books, all kinds of books. It MUST NOT be one of those restrictive, book banning brains.
And it needs to occasionally come up with wacky ideas. The kind of stuff that makes me snort and smile just thinking about pulling off such craziness or putting it into a story.
And this brain must have boundless curiosity over the weirdest things. The sort of stuff that makes other people raise their eyebrows and find an excuse to scurry away when I talk about my latest curiosity. In other words, a writer’s brain.
It must also love silly things and tell outrageous whopping tales, complete with facial expressions, hand gestures, and bodily gyrations.
This brain must know how to talk to bees, birds, deer, foxes, trees and plants, and even invisible creatures. It must thank them for stopping by if they are a moving thing. It must know that you thank all of them for their resilience and the hope and joy they bring you, followed by an apology because we don’t make their lives very easy.
And chickens, the brain must know that you always wish the chickens “Good morning” as they scramble out of the coop for their breakfast, and you thank them for their wonderful eggs, especially the older gals.
It must be a dog person’s brain that understands I have nicknames for my dog, including Babushka, Puppers, Miss Miss, and Boo. And that I have some of my most stimulating conversations with my dog, some of which are in Irish because she doesn’t laugh or raise her eyebrows when I speak nonsense.
Geez. Now that I think about it, I want to keep the brain I have. It is not the brain of anyone who wants to be successful in this world. It requires a great deal of coddling, periods of withdrawal and isolation, and therapy.
But I like challenges, experimentation, and discoveries and my brain is a great enabler for that sort of thing.
What about you? How is your brain doing this year?