I’ve always been fascinated by the brain, and in particular the whole hemispheric thing – Left brain quantifies, measure and decodes, while the right brain intuits and creates and senses. And the left-brain dominant people think the creative/right side is basically wasted space, while right-brainers think the left-brains people Just Don’t Get It, Man. I bring it up because while I am extremely right-brain dominant, my friend Mark is left-brained.
I’m the creative type who writes, and performs, and acts, but also loses my keys every day and goes in to a sort of waking coma filling out insurance forms. Mark is an engineer. As such, he made a whole bunch of money and retired young, which, okay advantage: left brain, but you know what? He may have his big house and cool car and be retired and stuff, but you know what he doesn’t have? He doesn’t have… something. Something artistic and beautiful that I have. I can’t think of an example, but it’s there somewhere.
Suddenly I’m feeling depressed. Hm.
Well, anyway, the two of us I go running together on the weekends, getting ready for a race that’s coming up. And the two of us running together is like a study in the hemispheres of the brain. I show up with my shorts and t-shirt and shoes. I don’t like to bring a watch or anything, because – even though I want to keep my pace up and work on time – I just want to run.
Mark shows up with a fully decked-out running outfit and a GPS watch that tracks our current pace, pace overall, total distance, running time, current elevation and elevation gains and losses (“We’re currently at 3,460 feet. Oh man, we’ve only gone up 145 of the 780 feet we have to.”)
We’re both working on shorter strides – the current thinking on running is staying light on the feet: balls of the feet and taking 3 steps per second. Mark achieves this by loading an iPod with music calibrated out to 180 beats-per-minute. I do it by visualizing myself running across lily-pads floating on a massive pond. I don’t like listening to music while I run because I like to let my mind wander.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m right and he’s wrong, or that I’m ridiculous. I wouldn’t want to quantify our runs that much, but he enjoys it. It’s a deeply opposing approach to it, yet we’re having equal fun at it, which is just fascinating to me.
So, when we do this race coming up, it won’t just be he and I crossing the finish line, it’ll be the whole brain. And I’ll take a moment to contemplate the nature of thought itself and the meaning of the race we’ve just run as metaphor for life. And Mark will work on his stat-chart measuring our progress. And all will be balanced.