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On Watching Your Own Brain Change

A 2007 Honda Element that is wrecked.

Everyone is fine. The Teen and I walked away after getting T-boned and then rolling over in our beloved 2007 Honda Element ("Karl," purchased in December of 2006). Best. Car. Ever.

How this Changed My Brain

We were on our way, early Saturday morning, to volunteer at her school. We had a cooler full of rocks that we spray-painted white. At the Harvest Festival on Saturday, the little kids were going to paint them with messages of kindness. You may have heard this referred to as Kindness Rocks projects.

The Teen had some banana ice cream with her for breakfast (peanut butter, frozen bananas, soy milk) in her favorite big glass. We were wearing our seat belts.

I see a woman in an SUV coming toward the stop sign to my left (I don't have a stop sign) and I notice she's not decelerating. So I had a nanosecond to do something and I'm not sure what it was but rather than her hitting my door directly, she hit the back quarter panel.

We spun and then rolled over, but landed, thankfully, upright. In the middle of the street, perpendicular to traffic, as you see. We actually rolled a bit forward, and because all airbags deployed I couldn't see anything and didn't know where I was other than rolling. I hit the brakes.

Thanks to seat belts and air bags, we walked out of the car, but my beloved Karl is totaled.

A white rock that says, "Karl 2006-2023).

I will urge you all not to bring glass into the car, which I do ALL the time as I don't like water bottles. The glass shattered and sprayed the Teen, luckily only on her legs.

This could have been fatal, but all the best things happened. The rocks did scatter after they were jettisoned from the cooler (imagine if they weren't in a cooler?), and the lovely passersby collected them. The police chief delivered them to the school.

You know how I'm always talking about how everything that happens changes the predictions of your brain?

Well, this morning, when The Hubz was driving me to get a rental car, we stopped at a 4-way intersection, and to the left was a car similar to the one that hit us on Saturday, approaching its stop sign. Now that my brain's predictions have been altered and include a silver SUV to the left moving toward a stop sign, I experienced an immediate squirting of adrenalin and cortisol and whatever else. My brain was gearing up my body for what might happen because it has already happened.

This, friends, is also a tiny window into what we call trauma.

I'm 56 and this is my first accident. Until now, it wasn't in my head as a prediction and now it's part of my predictions. Do you see how everything that happens gets incorporated into your brain's predictions? The more I drive past stop signs with silver SUVs at them who decelerate and stop, the better, LOL.

It's going to be interesting to observe this play out. I love myself a good experiment!

Finally, part of the reason for the Element is we've always rescued greyhounds and they're big, they don't sit, and you can remove one or both of the back seats. The hounds either curl up or stand (they're used to being trucked around from racetrack to racetrack, and they frequently stand). If Chip was with us, she'd be dead, for sure. I know how many people love to bring their dogs everywhere, and some dogs love it (Chip doesn't, thankfully). So maybe rethink that or make sure your doggo has a doggo seat belt.

Your brain is constantly refashioning itself to expect what has already happened. What does your brain expect today?

May ease find you.



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