Column: A beautiful mind

TRL’s Ashlan Morgan shares the importance of recognizing the blessings of the mind


Courtesy of Ashlan Morgan

“Although her old self, the woman we remember by her poise and perseverance, has faded, she has also brought a new light to the way I see the blessing of the mind.”

“Merry Christmas” has been her staple for two months even though it is just now the countdown of days we start opening Christmas advent calendars. “What do you want for Christmas?” has been a persistent question every time our eyes meet. My answer is different each time she asks, but every time she anxiously awaits my answer and promises me she’ll tell my grandfather to put it on the list.

My grandmother has Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s. The brain cells inside her mind have been damaged and therefore her cognitive ability is in a terminal decline. Despite her mind always presenting her with confusion and fog, she always stays kind, selfless and optimistic. Although her old self, the woman we remember by her poise and perseverance, has faded, she has also brought a new light to the way I see the blessing of the mind.

Senior year is this still, yet equally chaotic, time between youth and adulthood. Everything becomes more real as college is more commonly spoken than high school. After thirteen years of school, four of which being high school, the brain has been continuously packed and filled and overflowed with knowledge. Sometimes it can be hard to imagine another four, to however many, years repeating the cycle.

The times that spiral of thinking appears, I remind myself what it’s like to have a healthy brain. A mind that is able to remember my friends’ faces and what I learned in each class throughout the day. My brain is able to forge neurons and send messages in order for my thoughts, behavior, speech and movement to work to their full potential. There is no second during the day I have any reason to doubt my mind’s ability, and I think that should be a blessing.

I don’t think my grandmother realizes what is happening inside. Maybe sometimes there’s a noticeable hesitation in her eyes or a comment about how something doesn’t seem to be right, but she has never had an obvious realization of what is happening in her mind. However, maybe it should be that way. The mind houses the soul, thoughts, beliefs and emotions. Ignorance to that degeneration may be for the best.

My grandmother remains wholly optimistic; however, she’s not optimistic despite or because of her circumstances, she’s optimistic because that’s the part of her mind that remains as solidified as stone. Her youthful fascination with Christmas and unrelenting kindness towards fulfilling those under the tree wishes prevails in her thoughts. To her there are no brain cells dying or tremors shaking, there is only the consistency of Christmas circulating throughout her mind. The mind that is grasping for anything to say that isn’t a grey fog of confusion and fear.

The mind is beautiful. 

It’s daunting to look into someone’s eyes, and right behind those irises the mind is erasing itself. Yet, there I am, with a young and healthy one. It can recall her name and remember her birthday. I can tell her it’s Thursday and Christmas isn’t really for three more weeks.

We don’t take the time quite often to thank our minds. We should. We should thank it for giving us perception, emotion, remembrance, intelligence and fascination. We should thank it for giving us the opportunity to thoroughly experience all life has to offer. We should thank it even when it hesitates or stumbles.

We should thank it for being loyal to us from beginning to end.