Saturday, October 07, 2006

In search of a nimble brain...and a tender heart.

Okay, so I need to get batteries for the spare digital camera, because this is my umpteenth post with no accompanying photos. Not that I have anything to take pictures of, but blog entries are always so much more fun with pictures.

It's raining. Hard. Again. I really don't mind a bit, but these huge storms have been amazingly frequent this fall. And I always end up out in them, through my own idiocy!

I went to Barnes and Noble this afternoon and picked up State of Denial by Bob Woodward...I really want to hunker down and make it through this book, but I have gotten dumber in the years since college and have a harder time focusing. I don't think I'm as smart as I think I am. I'm always picking up these history books that look super interesting, and I make it through the first third, if that, and then Dummy Brain kicks in and I just can't focus anymore and remember all those people and all those policies.

I am thinking about my brain as I all-too-rapidly approach yet another damned birthday, and wonder how to keep it nimble and alert. I already have chronic hereditary depression and anxiety killing off brain cell function at a rapid to hang on to the capacity I still have???

My ideas for brain cell growth include: learning how to play a guitar and read music, learning how to knit and/or crochet, and learning how to machine sew. Learning the rudiments of a foreign language could also fit onto that list somehow. Italian, maybe. Oh, and learning how to bake bread, yeast-style.

And I could also pull down that stack of history books and give myself a crash 20th-century history refresher course. The 20th-century is my century...that's the one I sort of specialized in while taking classes for my history degree. Insofar as it was possible to specialize at a school with a three-professor history department. A couple of the books on my stack, in case anyone was wondering (you know you were):

The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman, and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany

The Cold War: A History
War in a Time of Peace: Bush Clinton, and the Generals
Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1525-1828
A Peace to End All Peace: the Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

See, now I would look like an awfully smart cookie if I could declare that I had read ANY of those books through to the end.

My mother-in-law commented to me once that for a peace-loving Mennonite, I was awfully interested in war. And it's true. Twentieth-century war, anyway...don't ask me anything about the Napoleonic Wars. War changes the countries that fight it. Those changes shape the way we live today, the things we worry about and the things we carry around in our national subconscious. It's endlessly fascinating to me.

Now if I could just get through a book.

Oh, one last thing...I have been so burdened this week by what happened to those Amish girls on Monday. I have always had a soft spot for little Amish girls...they are so beautiful in their dresses and aprons and caps and braids. They seem like girls from another era, so innocent and untouched. My mother and my grandmothers were Mennonite, not Amish, but they grew up in dresses and braids, did I, although growing up in the modern-day Mennonite Church I was able to wear pants and cut my hair when I wanted to.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I always saw people I loved sort of reflected in the faces of Amish girls.

To think of the horror that fell upon them on Monday just is almost too much to wrap my mind around. To think of the humble and brave way they met their deaths breaks my heart wide open. I am not a news junkie...I don't care to wallow in other people's grief, I've mentioned that here before. Sometimes that borders, for me, on cynicism and sort of a disconnectedness from the tragedy du jour. But this one really got to me.

Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Disaster Service, two organizations that do so much good in the world, are both creating a fund to provide support for the families and the community...if you have a few spare dollars to contribute, please do. You can donate online here, or mail a check marked "Amish School Recovery Fund" to MCC, 21 S. 12th St., P.O. Box 500, Akron, PA 17501. Thanks.