Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Antlers and brains

I sometimes notice the weakness of a strength.  Whatever we specialize in tends to become more integrated into our lives.  We develop special skill in our specialty.  We get to the point where it would be hard to give up our specialty.

I am interested in cases where an animal has been caught or trapped or killed or hampered because of its specialization.  A search on Google for 'locked antlers' results in stories of antlered animals getting their antlers locked together and being unable to separate.  It may be good protection to have a big set of sharp horns on one's head but in addition to the price of weight, those horns can be a handicap.  A turtle upended onto its back may have a difficult time getting its feet back on the ground.  The ancestors of those animals developed specializations and they are good ones, borne out by the fact of the continuation of the species but a strength can be a weakness and having the strength carries a cost.

I don't know much about mental illness in other animals but the highly developed human brain, grand specialization that it is, can be a weakness, too.  Having one carries a cost.  We tend to develop the habit of trying to use our brain on every problem we have.  We tend to think all the time and have difficulty stopping, even for a short time.  We tend to talk to others or ourselves all the time and have difficulty taking a break from talking.  The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, the author that Oprah ran an online free course with, is one book on the value of training oneself into greater awareness of brain and mind use.  There are many other sources that can be very helpful in gaining some control over the mind so that thinking is a little less automatic and addictive.

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