"I've Found My Marbles."
I was listening to talk radio in New Mexico last month. Yes, there are long expanses of highway here, so it’s becoming an unusual pastime of mine. On this day, a middle-aged man was sobbing about how his mother had "lost her marbles" based upon early-stage dementia.
It was harrowing to hear his story, regardless of the outdated language he was using to describe the challenges of those experiencing memory loss and confusion.
Of course, we’ve all used some version of that same language at one time or another. We wouldn’t be human if we weren’t worried about our brain cells slowly disappearing. One of the greatest worries we have as longevity grants us more time on the planet is that our brain will go AWOL.
The late Dr. Gene D. Cohen, a founding father of geriatric psychiatry, is famous for seeing "not only what aging is, but what aging could be; not what we accomplish in spite of aging, but because of aging." In his book, "The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain," he brilliantly shows what in the brain gets better with age, including systemic thinking and emotional moderation, among other things.
In short, we are called upon to reframe our lives—to become less focused on what we’re losing and more focused on what we’re gaining with our additional revolutions around the sun.
Yes, we may be losing brain particles along our way—forgetting faces and names and where we put the keys. But with a little re-shifting of energy and focus, we may find other things have taken their place—peace, gratitude, wisdom, deeper friendships, stronger community, purpose, meaning, and love.
There are all kinds of good marbles waiting to be found. And remembered.
If this topic of improving brain health is interesting to you, check out this article: Here’s Where Our Minds Sharpen in Old Age.