Nota bene – today’s post is a little more scientific, prompted by the challenge of writing about silence. The content here is entirely accurate and thoroughly researched within my own mind.
In the dead hours of night, the silence is loudest. In the wee small hours you stir. Your mind is alive with the most banal minutia. Your synapses are firing off, sparking new and random connections between neurons and opening up the doors to long forgotten memories. Lying there in bed, staring blindly at the ceiling, you wonder where these abstract thoughts come from. If you’re the creative type, maybe you keep a notepad to scrawl a story idea that burst from your subconscious. You sure as heck know those ideas will be lost in the grey light of morning. If, in those dark moments of nighttime silence you’ve wondered why your brain insists on inserting a random individual from elementary school into your world, I do believe I have the answer.
I hear the voices, quiet, so quiet that only the silence of night gives voice to them. These are the Mind Miners. The crews of tiny beings who clean the corridors of the mind, poking into the offices now deserted after a long day’s work. The day crew of Mind Mappers are, of course, sleeping, having steered the brain through the tediums of the working day. Long ago, they outsourced the cleaning duties to the lowest bidder, hence Mind Miners Inc. are now at work, rooting out the old and discarded thought packets from the dark corners, cleaning out the virtual filing cabinets to make room for newer randomness.
Mind Miners just grab the fragments as they find them, and push them through the Thought Shredder
Today’s information overload calls for a regular defragging of the memory hard drive. And like the computer hard drive, your various neurons store fragments of memory that are melded together in the hippocampus. The correct way to delete a memory is, of course, to remove the root file from the hippocampus and then remove the residual fragments from the various neurons all around the brain. But that takes time and the under resourced Mind Miners just grab the fragments as they find them, and push them through the Thought Shredder to make room for more memories. As these memories are shredded, they briefly flash across the viewing screen of the Mind’s Eye. These flashes of old memories get stitched together into the dreams we see. Which explains why we leap across continents, see faceless people, and view unconnected events happening simultaneously. It’s just a by-product of the memory shredding process. This also explains why you can’t locate the precise piece of information, like the movie title, a key ingredient or your friend’s name. The Mind Miners shredded the critical fact. You need to upgrade your disposal services.
Mind Mappers pulling an all-nighter
So why isn’t it always this way? Why can we solve problems in our sleep? Simple. There are a few of the day crew Mind Mappers pulling an all-nighter to clear the backlog of your over work. That project you volunteered for, the work your lazy co-worker dumped on you last minute, the story line that’s been eluding you, or simply the endorphic mist that’s enveloped your brain following a late night dalliance. The Mind Mappers can get to these issues when all else is quiet and there’s no distraction from having to process Facebook updates, viral videos or Big Bang Theory reruns. They process these thoughts the same way they process all your other thoughts – by running them through the Mind’s Eye recorder. The risk of doing so is that the thoughts might be strong enough to wake you, and then you’re thrown right into the thick of the newly processed thoughts being tangled up with the discard pile being shredded. Hey, the brain is a complex organ. What can I say?
So generally speaking this memory storage, retrieval and discard process works well. Mind Mappers deal with the everyday activities and process our waking actions. Mind Miners clean out the old closets full of long forgotten memories or obsolete facts. The crews generally work well together. The day crew make sure they’ve filed the important stuff before they clock off, and the night crew work their way methodically, emptying the waste cans and sweeping the corners of each room. Problems occur if your day crew are inattentive and leave important stuff lying around to be swept up for disposal, and when your night crew don’t clean up the root folder in the hippocampus.
The trick I found is simple. Give your little people enough time to do their job. Let your day crew relax and take lunch breaks, kick around the office a little and enjoy life. Don’t push them so hard and they will do their job well. And when you allow your day crew to clock off on time, you also give your night crew more time to do their job properly. So instead of just seeing random snippets on your memory screen in your nocturnal movie theatre, you might just see a complete re-run of a golden oldie memory being restored for long term storage.
It’s all true. I promise. I passed Biology at school.