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Awash • Posted: Dec 09, 2012 17:37:57Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

A friend recently commented to me: "I sometimes feel like I don't want to learn anything else, just synthesize."

I couldn't help but sympathize. In earnest, we try to get things right, to learn, predict, prepare. But sometimes our brains become so saturated with innumerable precarious details we just cannot take in any more. With time pressing, we may even feel rushed to make a decision. But we are not ready. We need a timeout. We need to take a step back and just let things sink in.

One theory of sleep has it that sleep allows the brain to consolidate new information, converting it from short to longterm memories, and in the process integrate it with existing knowledge, what my friend has called "synthesis", making holistic sense of a varied array of seemingly unrelated puzzle pieces. The brain says to itself, this is important and this is less so. This confirms this, but refutes that. In a neural net sense, some associations become stronger while others become less so and may even be allowed to extinguish. Our internal model of who we are, how the world works, and what will be our place in it needs simplification. It needs to gain efficiency for us to be able to react wisely and appropriately, and not continually feel overwhelmed with new information that suddenly doesn't seem to fit with anything we expected or prepared for. Daydreaming, timeout, exercise, and a good night's rest help us to synthesize an effective understanding of things. And when we don't have that timeout, we flounder, make mistakes, screwup, and find ourselves becoming nervous, irritable, insecure, and perhaps irrational.

May you always be able to find a welcoming place and time wherein you feel safe and free to healthfully process what has been happening to you.

Sunday, November 25th, 2012
Michigan City
11.5 mm 54 mm
1/125 sec
f 4