Monday, 13 January 2014

The two brains have a little chat. Or, do the thing.

I am very much taken with the You are Not Alone theme which developed on the blog last week. How the Dear Readers rise magnificently to the occasion. My only slight dread is that one day I might admit to something and you will all turn round and go ‘huh?’ It is a risk I must take.

Today, my idiot brain and my adult brain had the following conversation.

Idiot Brain: I can’t.

Adult Brain: Yes, you can.

Idiot Brain: I will feel stupid and frightened, and I will be right, because I have made a massive cock-up and shall have to go into the garden to eat worms.

Adult Brain, kindly, sanely: You will almost certainly feel frightened and stupid. There is a real possibility that you will have been stupid and so shall be quite correct in feeling so. But these are only uncomfortable feelings. You have not had your legs blown off or lost your sight. You have not done something cruel and unusual. You have just screwed up a bit, and you may have to sit with that. It’s not the worst thing in the world.

Idiot Brain: IT IS. I shall disappear into a shameful puddle of my own inadequacy.

Adult Brain: No, you won’t. Let me just run you through the worst that can happen again.

Idiot Brain: I might feel frightened and stupid?

Adult Brain: Yes.

Idiot Brain: And that is all?

Adult Brain: Yes.

Idiot Brain mutters something that only dogs can hear.

This conversation (and I screw up my face in embarrassment as I write this) took place because I’ve been worrying about cash and have been quite stupid about it and not planned for contingencies. Contingencies have happened. (Yes, shouts the Know It All Brain, because this is life.) I went into a defensive crouch for a few days and could not face looking at my bank account, because I felt so idiotic and wrong and childish. I did not want to see proof of my lack of budgeting and past profligacy. I was convinced everything would be screaming at me in red and I would have to live off beans for the next year.

Finally, the adult brain won. The idiot brain went and hid itself in the cupboard of doom, and I opened up the computer and squinted at the screen.

It’s not anything like as bad as I feared. I shall still have to keep listening to the adult brain, and my belt shall remain tight, but I’m finding a small pride in saving money and a curious liberation in not buying stuff. The only things I buy now are the odd rug for the red mare, and some supplements to keep her dear hooves hard. (She cannot do without rosehips and seaweed.)

I do still feel a bit stupid, because I did not look far enough down the track, and I let things get away from me. But as the good old adult brain pointed out so truly: feeling stupid is not the end of the world.

I have a real terror of stupidity, and my next private project is to try and work out where that comes from. It’s such an odd thing to be frightened of. I mean, all humans are capable of stupidity, and it’s such a small vice, so tiny compared to cruelty or prejudice or dishonesty. I’ve known people who are utterly brilliant in one sphere be perfect icons of folly in another. Cleverness can be a wonderful and generous thing, but it can also be hard and almost ruthless. My absurd fear of being stupid, a fear so crashing that it can paralyse me and actually stop me doing things, is the next existential tangle which I must unpick.

In the meantime, I feel a streaming relief that the thing was not nearly so terrifying as I had thought. The anticipation and assumptions were perfect carnivals of mortification and fear; the reality turned out to be something which can be managed, with a little stern application.

I think: I must get to work on my tendency to catastrophise. I’m not sure that I can say categorically that things are never as bad as one thinks, because there must be times when they are. But most often, as the fool mind conjures up lurid images of disaster and destitution, as the lizard brain insists that everything shall crash and people will sneer and mock, the actuality is nowhere near as catastrophic. I know I should know this. I have seen Hamlet enough times, after all. I know that nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

Do the thing, is my mantra for the day. Just listen to the adult brain, and do the damn thing. Even if you might end up feeling a little bit stupid.


Today’s pictures:

The light this morning at HorseBack:

13 Jan 1

13 Jan 2

13 Jan 3

13 Jan 4

The light of my silly old life:

13 Jan 7

13 Jan 8

The light turns Stanley the Dog into a gleaming streak of red:

13 Jan 9

And, first thing, turns the hill into something magical and mysterious:

13 Jan 10

It’s all about the light, really, literally and metaphorically.


  1. Lizard brain darting about in fear of imminent obliteration at this end today. Adult brain kicks on.

    Not just you :)

  2. If I may suggest a slight tweaking of terminology, to get into possible slight financial scrapes is more a bit silly than out-and-out stupid. Stupid would have been if you never opened your bank statements, or left bills unpaid for months or hadn't logged on and checked your accounts. But you did.

    Lots of us have had to suck our teeth and go ouch this month as we looked for the next notch on the belt, but we are good at (self) rationing - we are British.

    Consider yourself normal. Very normal.

    It's January. All but the very comfortably off go eek a bit in January. If we aren't a but worse off than usual it probably means we were horrible stingy or cheerless over Christmas.

  3. Quite normal. As I told someone close to me, the most someone can say is no. Similar situation. Glad the adult brain kicked in.

  4. I know that my adult brain has my best interests in mind.
    However, I often have more fun with my idiot brain...(when it's not being downright mean...)

  5. "I shall have to go into the garden to eat worms" has now been entered into my personal lexicon, along with the much beloved "cupboard of doom" as terms capable of unscrambling miswired brain cells with humour. I also intend to introduce it as code, to my friends, to warn of dangerous internal territory being approached.

    Thanks, once again...

  6. I'm not game to look at my bank account until payday. Hangs head. You see, I bought a new phone and some books. When I should be saving for my new puppy. Oh the shame.


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