I hate the limbic system

I was standing there doing procedures today…  By the way, I do procedures 3 times a week, and it’s basically a half hour of intense visual concentration and hand-eye coordination times ten, but frequently, my thoughts are allowed to wander, so if it seems like half the posts here start with “I was standing there doing procedures today…” that could be why.  Then, 25% might start with “I was driving home from work…” and the last 25% with “I was waiting for my kid to fall asleep…”

So, I was standing there doing procedures today, and I had the 90s station on Pandora playing in the background.  To each his own – I used to know a guy who scoped to Christmas music exclusively, which led the patients to wake up severely confused dreaming about Christmas in July – but I enjoy 1990s music. That song “Waterfalls” by TLC came on. “Don’t go chasing waterfalls…. just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used tooooo…”  remember that?  What does that even mean!  I heard it and I thought: Mysterious cerebral wiring is responsible for so much! Like how 25 years after the fact, when I smell the combination of bad coffee and warm milk, it makes me think of walking into kindergarden (they were always brewing something for breakfast in the cafeteria).

Or for how one time I was driving home, and automatically got off on the exit where I used to live, not where I live now, and before realizing where I was basically drove right to my old house, using the same left steering wheel sweep on that almost U turn left turn.

Or the sound of the On Hold music at my hospital makes me viscerally sick because it reminds me of being on hold in the middle of the night.

Or for how certain songs cause an unwelcome spring of tears sometimes… “Waterfalls” instantly transported me into a minivan in stifling August heat, sunburned, and in a wet bathing suit, half asleep in the back seat on the way back from a field trip to Canobie Lake Park, as my ex boyfriend and ex best friend (can you guess there is a story there?) were canoodling in the middle row.

It’s because of the limbic system.


It is so weird.  That darn system in your brain that responsible for motivation, emotion, learning, and memory.  It sits there and plays you like a puppet by influencing your hormones and your reflexes.  It’s has a finger on the button of sexual arousal, and holds the strings to getting “high,” whether on drugs or on life – whatever tickles your pickle.  It holds the steering wheel to decision making and problem solving.  It has a stake in everything.  It links smells, sounds, and sights to emotion and memory.  Which explains why I suddenly felt crappy after hearing “Waterfalls.”

I’m no psychologist or neurologist, and I won’t pretend to be able to give a reasonable tutorial on how memories are made.


Stupid limbic system. Alters my mood and is completely not subject to my control.


2 thoughts on “I hate the limbic system

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