Our brains are awesome. I am in constant awe of how brilliant they are. And you know what I find interesting? We always think of our brains as another conscious thing living in peaceful cohabitation inside our heads. It’s not really ‘us’ doing certain things. It’s our brain. Always a separate entity. We have stuff which we do, and then we have stuff our brains do independently. And they do it with superhuman brilliance.
And the same goes with our body. It’s all about Mind/Body Dualism. You don’t hit your foot on the coffee table or a cabinet and immediately think “I’m hurt!”. You think “My foot’s hurt!”. And then you probably go on to shout obscenities at every piece of furniture in your living room, thinking they were all in on this ambush together.
I find this incredibly fascinating. Not the furniture-planning-to-attack-us idea (although that would make a pretty decent Michael Bay movie with explosions and absolutely no storyline or character development whatsoever), but the idea that we don’t think of us as brains.
We think of us as minds or souls. Our brain is just a friendly passenger on this trip we call life. And as corny as that sounded, I love the idea. We’re never lonely. Not really. Even when we’re completely alone, our brain’s always there to talk to us.
Granted, it’s not always helpful (mine randomly mentions how depressing life is whenever things get too quiet), but it’s nice to have company. And did you know that our brains have superpowers? Yeah, we’re pretty awesome.
1) Masters of Peripheral Vision
You don’t even know you’re using this power but you use it almost everyday. Have you ever noticed how you can see things clearly without looking at them? Most people can recognise basic shapes, colours, and rough outlines of objects from the corner of their eye, but our introverted brains have fine-tuned this talent. We properly see things others can’t.
Like when you’re in the bus, for example, and you need to silently observe the boarding passengers before deciding who you’d like to sit next to you. It looks really creepy when you’re ogling at them and it can possibly lead to *gasp* a conversation.
With this power, you appear to be looking out the window or at your phone, but you’re inconspicuously looking at them. Maybe it’s through some clever reflection or maybe it’s from the corner of your eye, but you see them. It doesn’t matter where they are. Your incredible powers of peripheral vision will find them.
2) Memory Magicians
We Can Remember The Smallest Of Details…
This is the most useful of the bunch, I find. Our brains are magnificent. I think we both love and fear the brilliance of our brains. They remember things we don’t even tell them to. For example, someone shows me their schedule asking if I’ve got any classes with them. I have look at it then hand it back, saying we don’t.
In those 10 seconds, my brain’s already memorised their class timings/locations and stored all the information in a nice little metaphorical filing cabinet in case I need to peruse it later. It’s pretty efficient at this.
Let me clarify one point here. We don’t consciously do this. Our brains just memorise these trivial things without asking. And for some reason, our brains are determined not to forget anything (believe me, I’ve tried).
And a major portion of our brains is devoted to restaurants. In our minds, we’ve got the entire menu of our favourite restaurants memorised. And no, we’re not going to call them up to order take-out. Don’t be ridiculous.
Us, use our phones to call other human beings? How preposterous! (We order everything online and then wait quietly by the door with the exact change ready in our hands, practising the small talk we’ll need to use during our encounter with the pizza guy).
Also, I’m not sure if this happens to all of us, but I’ve noticed that if I’ve watched a movie just once, my brain’s pretty much got the entire dialogue stored in my (our?) head.
This is incredibly useful whenever the conversation’s slowing down. You just need to blurt out a random quote pertaining to the situation at hand and then the conversation will turn to how amazing/terrible that movie was. It’s a great way to change the topic and also contribute to the discussion.
But We Suck At Remembering People.
You know, for a bunch of people who can memorise paragraphs of dialogue and other people’s schedules within a matter of seconds, we suck at remembering simple things like other people. I constantly forget people’s names and/or faces. This is awkward if you’ve just met them. It gets really awkward if you’ve known the person for a while.
I mean I will have a whole filing cabinet of information on each person, but if I have no idea who the person is, all my information is useless. They are the key to unlocking all of that information. And you know what’s worse?
Once I realise who they are (usually halfway during the conversation), I have to pretend that I don’t know much about them. Otherwise I come across as some sort of stalker.
Most of the time, I rely on the other person initiating the conversation because I’m hopeless when it comes to recognizing other people. I’ll see them with my peripheral vision, but I don’t start the conversation because I’m never 100% sure if it’s someone I actually know or just a random stranger.
If it is a random stranger (is it? Who knows…) then I start thinking about why I would know this stranger or how we would probably have met. (Have we met? I have no idea.) By the time I figure it out, the stranger/possible acquaintance is long gone. And within a matter of seconds, I’ll have forgotten everything I just figured out.
3) Autopilot Extraordinaires
I Am A Lazy Person…
I am a lazy person. This much is obvious. Laziness should be a superpower in its own right. People think being lazy is a bad thing but it’s actually got some positive aspects to it.
Autopilot is a life-saver. Most of my life is lived on autopilot actually; it’s like I’m not even there when it happened. Here’s how it works.
- My body is like a car.
- I am usually in the driver’s seat.
- My brain is the talkative passenger sitting next to me.
- My brain observes how I drive (how I react to certain situations, what facial expressions (if any) I make whenever I react, my body language, how I walk, how I talk etc.).
- Whenever I get tired of driving and want to do something interesting (like thinking of how Santa Claus could effectively take over the world and create a Reindeer army if he wanted to), my brain will jump into the driver’s seat and take over.
- I’ll be doing whatever I want in the passenger’s seat while my body will act normally.
- I’ll occasionally glance at the driver to see if everything’s running well (my brain’s almost got his full driving license now, I’m so proud).
- Nobody else will know anything’s different.
- Great success!
So let’s say I’m at dinner and we’re talking about the political situation in Canada. Bored out of my mind, I will be busy wondering if fish actually do have fingers they’re not telling us about. My brain notices this, agrees that fish are hiding things from us (it never trusted them), and automatically switches to Autopilot mode.
It tells my body how to act. It makes all the required facial expressions and even throws in a few insightful comments to convince people I am really listening to the conversation. My brain’s getting really good at this. In fact, my brain’s getting so good at this, it’s started improvising. Oscar Wilde knows what I’m talking about.
“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”
– Oscar Wilde
And it works really well for walking, too. From what I’ve managed to observe from the passenger seat, my brain uses a simple trick. It locks on to the feet of someone who’s walking in front of me and using peripheral vision, tells my body to follow them.
That way, my body doesn’t have to be looking directly at the person walking in front of me but can be looking at the ground or at the sky etc. When that guy goes in a different direction or something, my brain finds a new target and the process starts again.
Unfortunately, My Brain Is Also A Lazy Git.
Of course, this has its downsides. Unfortunately, my brain is almost as lazy as I am. It often decides to go on autopilot as well. Now there’s no one in the driver seat. My body, being a body, has no idea of this change in command and continues walking. BANG! I walk into a wall.
This has happened to me a lot. I’ve walked into walls, people, lamp-posts, trees, fire-hydrants, dogs, cats, stairs, and even the odd car which has happened to come across my path. I definitely need to refine the process a bit.
Well, my brain does anyway. I’ve got better things to do.
4) Great Sense of Direction
This is a pretty useful one to have. Whenever I need to get anywhere, in my head, my brain’s already mapped out the path I’ll take. This isn’t necessarily true for all introverts though; some people just have a better sense of direction than others. All I know is that it works well for me. My brain knows where most people hang out or what routes they take, so I know what places to avoid.
Whenever I enter a building, I already know where all the exits are, where the elevators are, where the stairs are, and what the least travelled path is to any exit at any given time. I have exit strategies planned out.
Additionally, whenever I spot someone walking towards me who hasn’t spotted me yet (thank God), my brain automatically switches to Plan B and gives me an alternate route to my destination. It’s beautiful. And this leads me to my next superpower.
5) Master Planner
We’re prepared for everything…
This one has saved my life too many times to count. Whatever the scenario, my brain’s got me covered. Before I even begin to travel, it’s already busy mapping out 5 alternate routes and at least 10 back-up plans. And when things go according to plan, it’s the best feeling ever.
It takes into account every possible factor and lets me know of any potential problems in the plan.
Even when we need to lie, we’ve got an entire back-story made up with solid alibis ready in case someone decides to dig a little deeper. Ever heard of Jason Bourne? His entire character was based on our brains.
But when something important actually happens, we forget everything.
Sadly, we often suck an improvisation. I know what you’re thinking. If you’re such a brilliant planner, you’ll have already taken into account the possibility of such a situation arising and dealt with it accordingly, right? Well, no. Only sometimes.
It’s impossible to plan for everything. Life is 75% planning and 25% improvisation.
Another problem is forgetting everything you planned for. Imagine you’ve been preparing for an interview for days. The day of the interview arrives.
You walk in, full of confidence.
The interviewer greets you.
You sit down.
He asks you questions.
You breeze through all of it.
This is so easy, you think.
Then he just says, “So, tell me more about yourself.”
And you forget EVERYTHING.
Of course, these are but a few of our superpowers. We’ve probably got a lot more which I’ve not mentioned. What superpower is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!
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