NEWSTROM – What does free birch firewood have to do with the brain?

BASHED FINGER really hurts. Thursday this last week I was on my way back from a tasty lunch at Motivos when I noticed the tree butchers on my rental property massacring perfectly good shade and bird trees.

Might as well stop and pick up some free firewood. Birch rounds are too heavy to lift so I rolled a gnarly chunk down hill towards my pick-up. Got my hand where it shouldn’t have been in a pinch point against a retaining wall and a 400-pound birch log. Damn near ripped off a finger. Lots of foul language and blood. Spent the whole afternoon in Emerg. Eighteen stitches to keep my finger a part of me.

What does this have to do with shtick brain plasticity of a Brain Food column?

Time for me to take the advice of my anonymous friend of two weeks ago who complained that this nutrimental brain grooming of the self is hard to digest. It is for me too.

This particular difficulty with the birch log is in admitting to myself that while I should have been getting back to studying for that math test I was to write the next day; I took a few minutes out to pick up firewood. That job could have waited for the weekend.

So did I engage in a dangerous activity because I was subconsciously afraid to write that exam? Did I subconsciously arrange that injury to my writing hand so that I would, no could, go whining to my instructor and get a deferment to write the exam at a later date? Did I engineer my own victim situation?

This honesty about how my brain works is hard to digest!

For the present I don’t want to start stewing about the neurons of my subconscious fear of a math test and how those sleepy neurons didn’t connect to other, very experienced, be-careful neurons of pinch points in rolling a heavy birch log down a little hill.  I just don’t want to start pissing and moaning the question, did I engineer that situation or not?

There is a point at which too much self analysis will drive you insane. Frank Delaney, my first year psychology prof at Vancouver City College warned us not to penetrate all the way to the absolute centre of the self.

I well remember a Grade eight track meet where P.E. teacher Mr. Glasford had me all trained up to run the 880 for South Okanagan High. About 14, I was already over six feet, and Glasford saw a long distance runner in me. On the morning of the big meet I woke up puking sick. My mother phoned in, “No, I’m sorry, Bob won’t be carrying the school’s banner today, he’s very sick.”

That was anxiety. Behind and fueling the anxiety, low self esteem.

I did not believe myself worthy or capable of winning the 880 for my self. If I couldn’t win for myself I surely couldn’t win for my school.

That experience in my youth is similar to the stitched up finger on my writing hand and the short deferral my math teacher so graciously granted me. My honesty above was difficult but it’s now a relief.

As my other feedback friend wrote about my last column, “(T)here’s nothing ghastly about a little criticism…” Certainly not. Especially of the self. The tipping point between doubting yourself, even for a short check, and hammering ahead is a sensitive balance. Both require sagacity, courage and neuronal flexibility.

Elon Newstrom is a Kamloops resident and occasional TRU student who is examining his brain.

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on NEWSTROM – What does free birch firewood have to do with the brain?

  1. Cynthia Ross Friedman // April 12, 2017 at 4:22 AM // Reply

    OK these odd, rambling,, earnest, and bizarre columns are growing on me. This one struck a chord. You are definitely on to something with your constructed failure (my term…like “constructive dismissal”) idea. Would be interesting to see what the psychology literature says. I am definitely a fan of the unorthodox and unconventional. Keep challenging us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: