The first time I walked along a busy sidewalk after returning from London, I realized that I had adopted the habit of passing on the left rather than on the right. This made for a number of awkward moments with my fellow North American pedestrians, but it triggered for me a kind of epiphany.
Many years ago, a right-handed co-worker told me that she liked to use the mouse with her left hand because it re-wrinkled her brain. She meant that doing something differently stimulates the brain to form new neural connections and pathways. I tried it myself and found that my brain felt more awake, which made sense since I was using parts of it that didn’t normally see much action.
London had done this for me: it had re-wrinkled my brain. Everything was just different enough to stimulate without overwhelming. The city was filled with patterns to notice, analyze, and assimilate – language, architecture, food, customs, and so on. Awash in this sea of new and intriguing information, I felt more alive than I have in years.
This explains why I didn’t want to leave, why I felt this nearly desperate urge to return again at the earliest possible opportunity. There are all kinds of contests you can enter to win a trip to this summer’s Olympics in London; I entered several before I caught myself in the midst of applying for a credit card that I really don’t want or need. I’m still entering the ones that have no strings attached. Wish me luck!