Craig Collins' Portfolio R. Craig Collins > Web Page Design > Portfolio > The mind is like a house, 1999

The Mind is like a house, an analogy © R. Craig Collins, 1999, 2007

Liner notes…


Along time ago, a foundation was laid
strong, but now hard to alter.
Upon it was to be built a beautiful house
the place where we dwell, our shelter.


Development of the embryo neurons, and the hazards of drug and alcohol during this time.

Wires were pulled to a set plan
success based upon the circumstances,
through paths in barren walls
then covered up from casual glances.


The connections to touch, hearing, sight through the neural network.

Hard to repair, impossible to replace
they snake about the place implicitly.
There are wires to connect the alarm, the phone, the TV,
and to supply the house with electricity.


The brain becomes isolated, relying on neural connections for stimulation.

The exterior was added, built to withstand
the onslaught of the daily grind,
able to withstand the rigors of the world
but susceptible to the elements with time.



Then the construction crew left
and no more sheaths to protect,
the onslaught was started
the new house was first checked.


Breathing, the digestive track, and other systems begin to work without of the mother.

Bombarded from without
unorganized within,
the automated systems
began to kick in.


Receiving stimuli, the beginning of building schemas to store information, continuing toward self-awareness.

Then the day came, we started to move in
unsure where to place our stuff.
We had so little then,
but very soon the going got rough.


Accommodation, the reworking, expansion, and creation of new schemas.

The saying goes,
that closet space is always lacking…
yet we find a place to tuck our things;
and where to find them, we start tracking.


Using internal and external stimulation to retrieve stored memories.

Oh occasionally, it takes awhile
to retrieve a particular treasure.
But rummaging the path through the other gems
often also brings us pleasure.


Increased capacity through training vs. accommodation.

Some lucky folks might decide to add on,
making their house a little bigger.
But most of us will be content
to rearrange and reorganize the furniture.


Filters to attention.

There are times when the window blinds are drawn
allowing in just a touch of sound and light;
then on other days we open them fully,
or they get closed hard to keep out the night.


Active attention, passive inattention.

Some days we have a great big party
and entertain so many guests…
Other days we might sit idle
quietly enjoying a rest.


Mental anguish and challenges may reinforce memories.

Our homes are often tested,
break ins, family fights, and weather,
most of the time homes bounce right back
or perhaps actually become even better.


Mental stress, chemical, or physical damage to the brain.

Some houses are subject to disaster
with major damage often so bleak.
Storage destroyed, wiring that is cut,
or walls now compromised or weak.


Stoke victims.

We might sadly wind up
living in a house forever dark.
One waiting for final collapse,
or one scarred with a permanent mark


Brain damage or autism.

Perhaps light can't enter,
or the phone or TV gets caught,
or items long stored are now forever lost-
but it is still the only home we have got.


Brain surgery, transfer of action to backup parts of the brain, transfer of action by relearning skills.

We might build a new closet,
or replace the door of the pane,
we might run a few new wires;
we might get it working almost the same.


Even in a healthy brain There is a re-creation process; association, inference, and re-exposure can fill in small gaps.

Or maybe it will be good as new,
the damage in places repairable.
A little paint here, a little nail there,
it returns to more than just bearable.


Every one passes on.

But one day, this house
modest or grand in its prime
will one day end it days standing
and return to the soil, in time.


In determining the duration of mental proficiency and the brain's continued oversight of the rest of the body, genetics plays apart, as does environmental exposure.

Part of the time allowed is based on the builders,
their care or the amount of haste.
Part of the story is based on chance,
the luck of the draw in its case.


Some people stay alert into their 100s, other have failures very early in life.

Some house age gracefully,
aging as if it were fine wine,
other house just fall to ruin,
collapsing after no length of time.


One of the unique features of humanity is the ability to pass on information, allowing us to build upon the foundation of those that came before us.

But each house will have its history
a collections of memories were born
perhaps some treasures will be given away
and continue on, in someone else's home.