Brain Drain

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Sometimes I feel like my brain is so full, there’s no room for any more information. None. I’m especially prone to feeling that way after the two hours I spend in my weekly language class so the other day I tried to plead with my teacher in the Spanish she had taught me and I asked very nicely, “Please stop for just a minute, my brain is full.”. She looked at me briefly with what appeared to be only a very slight amount of sympathy, smiled and went right on speaking in the foreign language that Spanish actually is to me.  My morning reading currently consists of essays by Wendell Berry and he’s given me a new, positive outlook on situations like this. He writes, “We might find, if such a computation were possible, that the amount of human knowledge over many millennia has remained more or less constant — that is it has always filled the available mental capacity — and therefore that learning invariably involves forgetting.  To have the Renaissance, we had to forget the Middle Ages.  To the extent that we have learned about machines, we have forgotten about plants and animals.  Every nail we drive in, as I believe C.S. Lewis said, drives another out.”  This gives me hope that yes, I can continue to learn new things.  It doesn’t matter if my brain fills up — the new information will just displace older stuff that was in there, not really dissimilar to the way a computer eventually overwrites older files. I’m just hoping the deleted information isn’t something I really needed.

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