Put on your thinking cap … At the 2001 International Conference on Thinking in Edmonton, there was a special guest.

Put on your thinking cap …

At the 2001 International Conference on Thinking in Edmonton, there was a special guest.

Thirteen-year old Brandi Binder was unusual among a group of world-renowned thinkers and her remarkable story was apparently why she was there.

Her medical history and her recovery story are inspirational, as well as memorable.

By the time she was four, we’re told, she had experienced between 150 and 200 epileptic seizures a day.

The only treatment available was an operation that removed half her brain.

Afterwards, the physicians told her family she would never be able to live and learn like a normal child, and might never walk again.

Neither she, nor her parents, accepted the diagnosis. For 12 hours a day, Brandi and her parents worked together helping her to learn to think for herself.

She has learned to function and regularly achieves A and B standing; she has won awards for her drawings, even though the side of the brain that was removed is the one believed to govern artistic expression.

This is but a glance into a remarkable young woman’s story, and that of her remarkable parents — a testament to them, and to the human spirit, and thinking for yourself. I hope one day to share the rest of the story with you.

“Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” The Buddha

 (Talk about coincidences, the quotation came from my desktop Zen calendar the day we met Brandi Binder’s story.)

On sitting, and thinking …

Sit just to sit. And why not sit? You have to sit sometime, and so you may as well really sit, and be altogether here. Otherwise the mind wanders away from the matter at hand, and away from the present. Even to think through the implications of the present is to avoid the present moment completely.  (Alan Watts)

Nature gave us two ends, one to sit on and one to think with. Our success depends on which end we use the most.

Thoughts about praise …

Rossetti was a famous 19th-century artist who was once approached by an old man bearing sketches who asked him if he would tell him if they were any good.

After studying them carefully, Rossetti knew they showed little talent, and kindly told the elderly man as gently as possible just that.

 The man then asked if he would look at a few more drawings done by a young student.

 “These,” Rossetti said, “are good. This young man has great talent. He should be given every help and encouragement in his career. He has a great future. Is he your son?”

“No,” said the elderly man sadly, “it is me, 40 years ago. If only I heard your praise then … for you see, I got discouraged and gave up — too soon.”

You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you. (Rwandan proverb)

Another thought on thinking …

If you look at the three most important things in life, it’s like a triangle: the top is values — personal values, spiritual values, religious values; then you have health; the third is thinking. People spend a lot of time on health, but how often do you hear someone say, “I’m interested in becoming a better thinker?” (Dr. Edward De Bono, author)

Voices of reason are undesirables in this day and age — they force us to think!

Thinking not required …

German scientists have invented a special kind of beer coaster. It contains sensors that react to the weight of the glass and the movement of the coaster. The sensors relay the information to the bartender telling him the patron needs a refill.

Egotism — that certain something that enables a man who’s in a rut to think he’s in the groove.

A tip of the hat to thinkers. May their numbers increase manyfold, for it seems, all too often, so much advice comes to us from bumper stickers, and the like: “Just when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, the roof caves in,” and, “It wouldn’t be so bad if civilization were at the crossroads but we seem to be on one of those clover-leafs with no exit,” and finally, “The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.”