Adventures in neuroplasticity

I’m in rural Michigan visiting friends at the moment taking some time away from Toronto. I have been thinking about the very act of thinking, and the roundabout architecture and life events it seems to spur. We fall victims to our own repeated thought patterns and cling onto the comfort they provide, however illusory. I have been thinking about how to change these habits. I have been thinking about neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the phenomenon by which neural pathways and synapses can change over time as a response to physiological or environmental or habitual shifts. In the past, it was thought that brain structure was unalterable past a certain age, and there wasn’t much that could be done to teach the proverbial old dog some new tricks.

As I have mentioned before, since I got laid off, I have been having quite an emotionally and otherwise taxing time. This would not be apparent to most people who encounter me on two counts. I am a generally calm person, and the limbic side of me is seldom seen, even by those closest to me. In addition, due to the combination of a certain kind of education (or indoctrination?), as well as natural temperament, I find it immensely awkward to most acquaintances and friends to my random brain noise. Nonetheless, the turmoil that has been brewing inside consumed a lot of brain cycles, and I am hoping the processing of these shifts in environment and behaviour would lead to fruitful neuroplastic changes.

As someone, who has arguably been trying to force herself into another’s mould professionally for at least a year, but likely more, I feel like someone who has come out of a dysfunctional relationship. That is not to say, that I was treated poorly in any of my work environments. If anything, I found coworkers to be a pleasant addition to my work who cared for me beyond my contributions and actually took interest in me as a person. However, as things would later show, the work environments simply did not provide a good long-term fit for me. I have however come to the place where I can be grateful for what they did provide me besides the monetary compensation: a push to think differently about the trajectory of life.

Outside of work, I have sought out, somewhat restlessly, the kind of intellectual company that can answer these questions. My closest friends have been a great resource and ally for my at times awkward and fumbling attempts at pathfinding, but from them too, I have learned about people, dynamics and power in all our social relationships and how they could develop either symbiotically and/or exploitatively, and I continue to do so.

Obviously, all this has caused me to draw inwards significantly, but come September, when I go back to school again, I wish to return with new energy and foresight. And many changes in my brain architecture.


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