By BitcoDavid


In a scene from Chris Walas‘s the Fly II, the lead character, Martin and his girlfriend are hiding out in a motel. He’s mutating into a giant fly – twitching, peeling and losing his teeth and hair. Beth, his girlfriend, tells him they need to get to a doctor. She say’s “you’re getting worse.” He replies, “No. I’m getting better.”

Faster, smarter, stronger – better. It’s been my goal my whole life.

The Baby Boom represents the largest population expansion in this country’s history, and the majority of Americans, right now, can classify themselves as Boomers. That means that the majority of you – my readers – are a stone’s throw, a New York minute, a heartbeat away from the starin’ window. Get it? We’re all careening – pedal to the metal and no brakes – to a future of drooling in our oatmeal and wearing Depends.

But it doesn’t have to be thus. Jack LaLanne lived well into his 90s, and was active, alert and… well… alive right to the end. Exercise and diet can do wonders to stave off the tragedy of aging. But it’s only half the story. The one muscle that needs the most exercise and tends to get the least, is the muscle that’s located between our ears. That squishy gray glob of electrochemical energy we call our brain.

LaLanne also loved dogs, and his white Shepherd was a regular feature on his TV program. Image: Skeptical Eye
LaLanne also loved dogs, and his white Shepherd was a regular feature on his TV program. Image: Skeptical Eye

Research has shown that the best way to fend off brain disease is to keep learning new things. By opening new pathways in the brain, we create channels that can be used to bypass those sections that are destroyed by aging and other destructive illness. Further research proves that the best thing one can learn – to stimulate new brain cell activation – is language. In fact, language is the basis of all learning. One can’t study law, for example, without first learning the language of that science. Technology is the same way. Before one can understand what a transistor does, one must learn the language of electronics. Math is a language. Science, physics, history – even art. All are really languages that we must learn and translate into our own inner monologues in order to understand.

Many of my friends in the Deaf and HoH communities, tell me that hearing people don’t want to be bothered to learn Sign. I really don’t understand why this is. I love learning – and somewhere in my 30s I discovered that I’m actually quite good at it. Learning that is. Perhaps if my school years hadn’t been as abysmal as they were, I would have made that discovery a decade or so earlier. I’ve set out to learn ASL, and I’m loving it. I love it almost as much as I love boxing – another science, another language – one must learn. You don’t just climb into the ring and fight. It takes years to build a fighter.

Woody Allen's second favorite organ. Image: Williamette
Woody Allen’s second favorite organ. Image: Williamette

So if a friend walked up to you and said she wanted to teach you Italian, why on earth would you refuse her? Look at it like this. Any opportunity to learn anything might just give you another month, another year – perhaps – of independent, lucid… well… life.

So give some thought to learning ASL. Not only would you be adding to the overall size and strength of your brain, but you might just be able to develop some friendships in a world that you never even knew existed.

And a decade from now, instead of getting worse – you could be getting better.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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