Yesterday, on the return trip from Columbia, MO, I marveled at functionality of the brain. While passing a line of trucks at 70 mph on I-70, the one I was beside decided to merge into my lane. The brain had to receive the information through the eyes, process the data, decide on the best approach to prevent an accident and carry out the resolution.
Literally thousands of bodily functions were logically taking place due to this stimulus. In a few milliseconds, I steered to the left just to the edge of the pavement, checked the rearview mirror for secondary threats, brake and hit the horn. My brain was also processing the grass median for objects to avoid if I had to go into it. My heart rate increased along with my respiration and both my hands gripped the steering wheel. I noticed at the same time the Warden's hands reaching for the dashboard as she braced for impact, the flushed face and the gasp of fear. All people have a logical path to avoid dangerous situations.
This might be called the "fear and flight" scenario. Processes born out of experience, training and the need for natural preservation. Next came the "anger and fight" scenario when the threat was over but it was short lived due to the fact I couldn't get my hands around that truck drivers neck, so I settled for a few chosen words.
Much later and almost home we waited beside a flagman on a two lane highway as a utility truck setup a new telephone pole beside the road. The Warden and I watched as the various specialty and bucket trucks put men dangerously close to the live lines. My brain was processing the immediate danger to the linemen who were working right beside high voltage electrical lines.
Then the Warden, who was watching as intently as I, said, "Scholar bowl."
My brain went into an immediate reboot sequence. "Huh?"
"Watching that made me remember that I had some scholar bowl stuff to finish before school starts" she said matter-of-factly.
My brain was still trying to reboot. "How did that remind you of scholar bowl?" I asked, hoping for some starting reference in my reboot process.
"The telephone pole made me think of phone. Phone made me think of megaphone. Megaphone -cheerleader. Cheerleader-school. School-scholar bowl!" She answered as if everyone could follow the logical path.
I sat gripping the steering wheel, staring at the flagman who was frantically waving me to move on, my foot pushing on the brake and my brain somewhere between overload and shutdown.
I guess all brains don't work quite the same out side the danger zone.