Non compost mentis

A dear man I work with recently notified several people that he would be having minor surgery next week and would be “non compost mentis” for a few days thereafter. I have yet to determine if this was intentional (his British sense of humor is wonderfully wicked) or was merely fabulously Freudian. You see, this man is a gardener. And not a mere putterer with petunias, mind you, but the kind of gardener who passionately espouses (and actively promotes) the use of soil blocks.

(If you just opened a new tab to Google “soil blocks,” do not fret that this means you are not a serious gardener. It just means you are not quite as far gone as some of us.)

This same gardener revealed this spring that he had acquired chickens, which announcement was met with surprise by some (“Is that legal?”) and envy by others (me). Understandably besotted with his new feathered friends, he has attributed all mental lapses since then to a condition he calls “chicken brain.” As a fellow alektorophile (someone who loves chickens) I am both sympathetic and jealous. I wish I could have chicken brain!

As for being non compost mentis, I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. In a strictly biological sense, a brain that is composting might well be decomposing. I believe mine has been doing that for some time now, the neural pathways so infrequently used that the rest of me hasn’t gotten the news that I’m actually brain-dead.

On the other hand, composting is a lively, fecund process by which otherwise-useless matter is broken down into its essential elements, which can then be put to some other use. It’s kind of nice to think that my brain might be re-purposed, that it might actually yield something that some other organism could find useful.


6 responses to “Non compost mentis

  1. This made me smile. Sometimes days go by that I really do wonder if my brain is composting – oh, how I can not wait for it to turn into something more useful!

    – Emily

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      I think your brain is composting beautifully, Ms. Freshly Pressed! 🙂

      (If anyone who stops by my blog hasn’t visited Emily’s Pajama Days, do yourself a favor and pop on over.)

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I LOVE this post! I too am non compost mentis! I’m so glad that there is finally a name for it. And I especially like your twist at the end. This gives me a bright outlook for my future mentations or lack thereof. Jennifer, you are a wizard with words. Thank you for the hope you have given me.

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      It can be such a relief to have a name for one’s condition! Sad as I am that I can’t have chicken brain (chickens are not allowed where we live), I’ve decided being non compost mentis is an acceptable alternative.

      Hope takes some pretty strange forms at times, but strange hope is better than none. I am glad that my brain — whatever its state of compost — has yielded something of use. 🙂

      Thank you for reading and for your kind comments. Keep on composting (or not)!

  3. As a 50-something wife and mother who took a 6-weeks condensed/intense course in the very challenging Human Anatomy & Physiology earlier this summer after a 22-year sabbatical from formal education, I can attest to the fact that brain cells that appear dead can be revived and new neurotransmitters can still grow after all these years. No one was more surprised than myself!

    Enjoyed your blog on the chicken man, Jennifer. I don’t care much for live chickens, but I do like the flavor of fresh home-harvested eggs.

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Hmm. I was under the impression that neural cells can’t do that. (Shows how long ago *I* took A & P!) I find that news even more hopeful than the possibility of producing lovely compost between my ears, though I admit to a certain degree of entrenched skepticism. Does this revivification happen spontaneously, or does it require some kind of external trigger (chemical, electrical)?

      As for my fellow alektorophile, his lovely ladies produced their first eggs last week, and there was much rejoicing in his household. Upon being shown one of these neatly packaged miracles, I confess I was too lost in wonder to feel even the slightest pang of jealousy. I believe we could achieve world peace if everyone simultaneously stopped to hold a freshly laid egg in her/his hand for just five minutes.

      Thanks for stopping by, Cindy! 🙂

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