Published: Jan 31, 2020 1:20:12 PM


I recently reconsidered my brain's ever-expanding size during one of my routine visits to the Shriekboxthat's the industry term The Team of Doctors used for when I jam a pair of clean gym socks into my mouth and convulse to existentialism's shrill power chords.

Upon this occasion, we are faced with a tragicomedic conundrum.

Small question: is my brain too big?

Tinier answer: have you ever actually seen your brain, man?

The point stands firm. I may simply have a brain too big for mankind's polite, powerful, modern, cow-fucking civilization. My brain was chainsaw-sculpted from a perfect 74-ft cube of glacial ice. Once The Team of Doctors got in there, and the lingering petrol fumes faded, Broadway-ready floodlights revealed there wasn't just ice up in that bitch. There were unpolished black diamonds. There were neglected laundry piles. There were pockets of love. There were decades of accidental nihilism. There were even spheroids of blank space. Just, like, gobs of extra-dimensional antimatter.

Even still, something must be done! There's so much. There's too much. There's a world of things that need doing, and thoughts that need tending, and it's just too much.

Something must be done about the size of my brain.

Let me finish that thought ("NO!")

My brain is too big because it is too full. It is too full because, uh, well, let's just sorta begin there.

Perhaps you've felt this sensation? That there are only new problems in life, and no new solutions. Your brain still catalogs all new arrivalssight, sound, monologue, dialogue, sensations, and deprivations. While it does catalog these presented things, yes, even aligned to the best of your abilities to corresponding problems, new solutions are never reached. The evidence required to answer those stagnant questions is never enough. Your brain waits, still wanting more. Nah, you can't solve the problem with just what you've got! You need to wait, observe, and accrue more. Build a case. Refuse to solve the problem. Don't go in under-prepared. And, hey, listen, don't feel bad, it isn't the problem that refuses to be solved, it's your standards of quality that errs your judgment on the side of diligence. Yeah. Let's call it diligence.

With enough time, this problem would only evolve into something else, anyway, so why set down a decision at all? Why, for that matter, answer any questions, or solve any problems, or even truly identify problems, or change your life in any way?

Living like this, no thought goes finished. With the evidence / information overload, and given the choice between ruling an empty kingdom of dispassionate mules, lolling along sterile and without conflict, or ruling a manic gymnasium of cannibalistic Hulk-mice, high on survivalist brain-candy, the drug of choice is obvious. We invite never-ending thought because it feels better to fight. To always fight. To grow strong from the fight. Recent health studies say the average adult brain ought to be able to do three hundred consecutive push-ups each morning before plotting revenge against the world. Let the brain grow with its taxing psychosis, inconclusive and distrusting of presented evidence, of solutions, and just expand, man.

Grow forever! Ladies and gentlemen, if you are not pack-ratting every thought-trinket like a dumpster-thumping tanookie, you should be thinking about how best to hoard every future thought-trinket, etc., etc., da-dum da-dum...

I let it in. My brain considers every micro-movement of this planet and its teeming occupants, their potential wants and needs, and it files it away. Stacks of rotting evidence drip with water-damage alongside even today's new comings and goings. Nothing is conclusive. It feels like nobody runs the show and we just laugh at this decaying subsystem, hardly wondering what's caught fire upstairs.

By the standing laws governing my overactive imagination, committing to a decision based on available experience would expose potential vulnerabilities. Here's the fear: like a cow walking up a staircase, if something is set down as fact, it cannot be walked back. (Then you're stuck with a cow on the second story. (Also, how dare you live somewhere with two stories! Are you some kind of landlord, or did you just fall out of a rich person when you were young?)) As such, cows are not allowed upstairs, and we maintain policy that we do not make extra-final / conclusive decisions, instead receiving and processing data with no known end-date or objective.

Uhh, wait, what fucking snobbish coward chisel-chunked these laws into stone, and why am I suffering for it? 

They call it a "shrink" for a reason

We're all gotta scale down. We've gotta shed weight. If we don't, our brains are gonna melt from the continuous overclock. The motherboard will fry. Other components will shoulder tasks they weren't designed for. The cascading system failure will crash the whole habitat, we'll bounce off the atmosphere, and eventually burn up in orbit.

If you want to shrink your brain, a good place to begin is with decision-making.

I begin with the day's first decision: are you going to get up, or are you going to stay in bed? If you decide to get up, that's excellent. You decided and you acted. If you decided to stay in bed, that's excellent. Recognize you didn't not get up, you decided and you acted. You've sheared the embarrassing daisy-chain accompanying these thoughts and shrunk your universe.

While this may feel reductive, fuck me if it isn't a familiar paralytic people combat, it's really more of a thought exercise. Why even get out of bed? Why even move? The world is too big. The thoughts are too big. The shame is too big. Yeah, and no, and also, your brain is too big.

All the bits of my brain feeding evidencethe expertise, the inexperience, the assumed certainties, the times, the places, the people, and the lust for control over it allare doing a job. There's too much piled up and nobody's made any real judgment in who knows how fucking long? Thoughts need to be finished. The antimatter batches need addressing. The extra dimensions need to be closed. Decisions need to be made, filed, and stored as precedent for new problems, because they're piling up, too.

With that, I can reduce future brainloads. I can decide what input channels to open and close, controlling the evidence, the people, and the potential for simpler prioritization. A smaller brain can be more observant, more compassionate, and less alarmist. Wouldn't it be nice?

-- Alex Crumb
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