I was one of those children who was often labeled as an old soul. Adults frequently commented on my advanced maturity level at any given time in my youth. I can remember worrying about the world before I began kindergarten; I would hear snippets of news programs and spend hours thinking about victims of crimes or starving children in Africa. Nothing traumatic had ever happened to me at that age, nor do I have any recollection as to why I was such a worrywart, as my mother used to call me. But I was. I was eight when my father left us, and for some strange reason, I knew immediately that I would have to pay my own way in life. How does an eight year old child know anything about finances and college tuitions? Again, I just knew that I would have to do well in school to earn scholarships because I simply had to go to college. In fact, I have clear memories of pondering my life at eight; I mean, really pondering my future and how I wanted it to unfold. Guess what? It is my future and I am exactly the person I envisioned I would be- an independent woman with a career, no children, and a penchant for travel and world cultures.
Then I began to think about other old souls whom I have come across in this life. What makes one human being clearly connected to others and the world around them, and another human being completely uninterested in anything that doesn’t have to do with their own needs? Of course the experts would say heredity and environment play key roles. Yes, I get that. However, upon closer inspection of these old souls, something else comes to mind. Every one of these people are right-brain dominant. They are either artists, dancers, actors, writers, or having something to do with the act of creation. Even engineers and architects, who are strong in the calculation of numbers reflected in the left side of the brain, have a strong penchant to create. I see this delineation clearly reflected in my profession as well.
As a public school teacher, I have been a minority in a large pool of left-brained individuals. Most of my colleagues have neat little systems and structures that get them through the curriculum in a linear fashion. They progress from A to Z, step-by-step, 1-2-3. Not I. I have always taken a concept and looked at it from all angles. I see the end result I want the children to understand, and then I pull from a variety of sources to get there. If I were to die mid-year, no one could resume from where I left off unless they consulted a didactic teaching manual. All of the emotional imaginings I bring to the lesson would be lost.
Maybe right-brained thinkers have a wider filter of thoughts and ideas that do not get screened as tightly as the left-brained thinker who specializes in mathematical constructs. Maybe our connectors are more open to the combination of thoughts and feelings that have to be sorted out at a conscious level; hence, giving our brains more responsibility to analyze and synthesize information more freely. Maybe that’s what creativity is on some biological level. Whatever the case, I like my ‘old soul’ and I hope we can create together for a long time to come.