Even as a young child, my excitement to comprehend words and their meaning was exhilarating! My dad and I had a deal. He would drive me back to the library as soon as I completed digesting all of my dozen borrowed books. My primary interests were inventors, international political leaders and the U.S. Presidents. Till this day, I’m fascinated by these incredibly crazy, talented people.
Here are just some of the unique slices of information from books that I have accumulated in long-term memory over the decades.
I remember going through all the presidential material from George Washington to LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson). President Johnson was the only president ever to take the oath of office on a plane. That was because of the chaos following the murder of President Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy, in shock, stood next to Johnson while he was sworn in for the presidency. She refused to take off her soiled dress. Mrs. Kennedy wanted everyone witnessing this event to be impacted by the visual memory of her blood stained pink outfit.
Spellbound, is an understatement when I took on the writings of the genius residing in New Jersey known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park.” Mr. Thomas Alva Edison, although driven to achieve greatness, was not nice person. One prime example is how he treated and help ruin another brainiac named Nicolas Tesla. Google Mr. Tesla. Tesla’s life is more fascinating than Mr. Edison. Some of his spectacular inventions have not come to fruition to this very day.
One of my favorite smart asses was Albert Einstein. He was also a real clown! Albie was doing research in the 50’s at Princeton University. If I was only born earlier, Albert would have been my bro. I resided in the Princeton area as well. I loved how he combed his mane up, Mein Hair. I think Einstein would rub his entire head with a balloon before he would leave the house. My dad would tell how he would see the professor walking down the streets in Princeton, looking disheveled with his static cling hair taking on the wind in all different angles. In the early 1900’s, as a patent clerk in Bern, Switzerland, he would come up with brilliant new theories that would change the world. He did it in his spare time, spare time!! Remember that famous one liner that led to building of the nuclear bomb? It is E=MC² The man was a humble, gentle soul.
Madame Marie Curie blew me away with her discovery and ultimate death from playing with radioactive elements. Not only should she have washed her hands, a lot, but she should have been wearing a lead suit while trying to get friendly with radioactivity. She and her husband, Pierre, were a team that discovered polonium (named after her country of birth, Poland) and radium. Neither of them knew the carcinogenic dangers of exposure to these deadly rays. Their work helped lead other scientists to harness the awesome power of the atom.
Then I rocketed over into the adventures of the boys with “The Right Stuff.” Astronauts that eventually took us to the Moon. One of my favorites aluminum foil covered heroes, John Glenn, had at least triple the balls of any human at that time. He blasts off into space on what’s literally a bomb, circling the earth while eating from toothpaste-like containers filled with purred foods. Imagine being the first human to perform and achieve such a feat. Of course, there was no bathroom in that little tin can orbiting the Earth. NASA designed the first adult diaper for Mr. Glenn to do his duty for man and himself.
There were hundreds of other uniquely talented humans whose behavior and feats stood out from everyone else. They make such a difference in this world. No matter how high the odds were stacked against them, they all had two common denominators. The first was, never give up!! The second was a continual quest for knowledge to keep stimulating the brain!
I was always in awe of the brain because it’s so darn complicated. Scientists call it the last frontier of the body. How does this 3 lbs plus dual walnut-looking mass in our skull define our consciousness? Scientists and philosophers have been working hard on that question for thousands of years.
In youth, our brains have the capacity to soak up knowledge like a dry sponge. They enable us to absorb anything that we find fascinating. In youth, it’s so much easier to learn any new skill (languages, instrument, academics, etc.). Those 2 lobes above our forehead gives us so many different nooks and crannies to store information. In fact, the human brain has over 85 billion neurons (nerve cells). Each neuron can have up to 7,000 connections with other neurons. These connections are called synapses.
I’ve had many dreams about the famous people who I become familiar with through written words. My imagination had become a constant wild ride through the past. Famous people, now long past, seemed to find solace in visiting this little man wearing a child’s body that was barely past wetting his bed.
Imagine, how tall Abraham Lincoln would appear, standing next to your bed looking down at you. Wearing a stove top hat with stubble on his face, it was quite an awkward moment. What do you say to this dead president when you’re a little kid. I remembered thinking to myself, “Four score and seven years ago…as I pulled the covers over my head. I stayed hidden from Abe till I could hardly breathe. Finally, exposing my head again to the visions of the night, I was confronted by Napoleon Bonaparte. This French monarch even scared me more than Honest Abe. He really did have his hand stuck inside his coat. I’m thinking, possibly stomach pain or gas? Back under those safe covers went my little head. Imagine how the power of bed sheets covering my visual perception would always save me in the nick of time. Brought the covers away from my head again. Great, nothing but the still of the night! I was probably safe again till tomorrow evening. Could it have been due to the warm chocolate milk laced with nutmeg? We didn’t know it was a hallucinogen at that time. At least I didn’t know.
Think about this, everything that I was reading was going into short-term memory. At night, my brain was hooking that memory together like beads on a pearl necklace. Every memory a separate necklace. And dreams brought everything together from past to present memories. My reality was being wrapped around a virtual world I designed from words in a book conjuring up people and thoughts from bygone eras.
Our brain thirsts for stimulation from new information. So no matter what age, upon discovering something exciting to read, it sucks up the information like a vacuum on high. The more you are totally into a specific topic, the more chance of those 85 billion neurons putting it into long-term memory for future storage and retrieval.
Reading for me, has been a lifelong passion. The availability of reading material from hard to soft cover, e-books, steaming materials and audio books is empowering information. Visit your library. You’ll be astonished at the quantity of material where access is usually always available for book worship.
Special thanks to Benjamin Franklin. He organized and opened the first library located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1731. Mr. Franklin was one of the superstars of his day. Founding Father of the New America, journalist, inventor and the list goes on and on.