Monday, January 23, 2012

Overactive Mirror Neurons


I could never be a sports fan. Especially since my pre-frontal lobes developed and my mirror neurons kicked in big time. Mirror neurons are responsible for the way the baby sticks it tongue out back at you or the way one person crying in a group sets off others to do the same. It is the neurology of compassion and empathy, an interior physical response in our body that is triggered simply by watching others who are having the actual physical or emotional experience.

My mirror neurons appear to be overactive. I suffer from OMN. Out of loyalty and some feeling that it would be fun on a rainy day, I sat down to enjoy the 49’ers playoff game. But by halftime, I realized that I had spent a good hour twitching, twisting, grunting, shouting, recoiling as if someone had punched me. My mirror neurons were firing on all cylinders and by the end of the first half, I was exhausted. Had people looked in the window without seeing the TV screen, they might have called 911, thinking I was having some bizarre kind of seizure. And it’s all because of my overactive mirror neurons.

In the second half, I tried something new. Instead of merely responding to the action on the field, I lifted my hands and tried to guide it, showing before the play just where the pass would be completed, the run made or the tackle accomplished. Somehow these focused intentions made it through the screen and onto the playing field because things started picking up for the 49’ers and I don’t mind taking the credit. I even tried to influence the instant replay and push the ball away from the knee of number 10 to change the ruling on the Giants getting the ball, but my powers could only go so far. But once again, the peeping Tom in the window might have reported me to Cult-watch as my hands tried to guide the players to touchdown glory.

If I was so foolish as to become a routine sports fan, I’m sure I would age as fast as the people leaving Shangri-la in Lost Horizon. I just get too involved. Of course, when my team wins, it means my euphoria is directly proportionate to my anguish. But as a Buddhist striving for equanimity and non-attachment, this is not good for my practice. Well, it could be the ultimate test, but I think if Buddha lived in San Francisco, even he would jump up after that 73-yard touchdown or shout in disbelief at the fumble that led to the Giants’ field goal.

At any rate, I’m loyal to my city’s teams and sad for the 49’ers, but my nervous system is relieved that it doesn’t have to watch the Super Bowl. At least until next year. 

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