Eccentrics can keep you alive

Mentoring eccentrics

When my children were quite young, my second daughter took great interest in serenading our chickens which could not escape because they were firmly tucked under each arm as she walked around the house, talking and singing.

Her next sign of good communication and eccentricity was to regularly climb our huge mango tree and sing and play her school recorder to the birds that parked thereon.

I kept up her supply of musically challenged chickens.

More eccentricity came with my youngest son, who reached the age of three and began making up songs about anything mundane or traumatic that happened around the house. He then invented the word congrubulate, the first of many new words, and presented himself as a cartoonist, singing and cartooning the daily lives of people in his vicinity. To prevent laziness I enrolled him, when aged 13, to study cartooning and do the cartoons for this book. I also regularly supplied him with Mad magazines. I was doing something that would benefit our family for the rest of my life. I was mentoring eccentrics.

If you are taking notes, this is how I encouraged creativity and spontaneity in my children. I tried not to say things like, “don’t lean, don’t run, don’t lurch, don’t drool, don’t laugh, don’t fiddle, don’t be silly, don’t climb, don’t fall, don’t be as mad as a hatter.”

Value of eccentrics

American researcher, Dr Augustin de la Pena, at the San Jose Medical Centre in California, has linked long-term boredom with ill health. He said that the human brain functions best when it processes copious amounts of data. To starve the brain of data (variety) and conversation is to spark a series of physiological reactions producing stress and depression.

I would like to go further by proposing that quality and even eccentric conversation is a way to relieve the mind of boredom.

Remember the last time someone said: “I’m depressed because my family won’t stop talking to me or forcing me to laugh?”

Me neither.

Irritating people until they laugh

So this is the spot where eccentrics can step forward and take a bow.

My theory is that real characters and eccentrics help to keep the world alive. One of Australia’s experts on humor, Dr Jessica Milner Davis, at one time an honorary research associate with the University of New South Wales, says that ten minutes of hearty laughter can lower the heart rate and blood pressure for 45 minutes. Even smiling has benefits for the nervous system, hormonal levels, muscle metabolism and respiration

Crazy people may even help keep us alive if we talk to them and laugh with them. It has been rumored that children laugh an average of 146 times a day, but adults struggle to laugh an average of 4 times a day.

A Harvard Medical School researcher was quoted in USA Today as saying that billions of dollars could be saved if hypochondriacs who run up 15% of US medical bills, were identified and treated in brief therapy groups. In other words, would anyone reading this please mentor all the hypochondriacs in their family or social circle.

Quality conversation and good relationships can save squillions on medical bills.


About John
John started out as a cadet in 1970 at Bundaberg News Mail, continuing as a feature writer at Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, then began producing regular freelance articles for the Sunday Mail and New Idea. Later he took up science writing for Qld climate, water and soil scientists. Whimsical stories and humorous bush poetry is his current passion.