the social animal

. . . This is why all biographies are inadequate; they never capture the inner currents.  This is why self-knowledge is limited.  Only a few remarkable people can sense the way early experiences has built models in the brain.  Later in life we build fictions and theories to paper over the mystery of what is happening deep inside, but in childhood, the inexplicableness of the world is still vivid and fresh, and sometimes hits with terrifying force.

. . . There is substantial evidence to suggest that mental stimulation improves longevity.  People with college degrees live longer than people without, even after controlling for other factors.  Nuns with college degrees live longer, even though their lifestyles through adulthood are the same as nuns without them.  People with larger vocabularies in adolescence are less likely to suffer dementia in old age.  According to one California study, seniors who participate in arts programs require fewer doctor visits, use fewer medications, and generally experience better health than seniors who don’t.

But the real rewards were spiritual.


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