Like Caged Rats | Urban Living
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Like Caged Rats

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I signed up for the Wasatch Speakers Series at Symphony Hall a few years back. An old friend hornswoggled me into buying a season's pass she was selling. I cringed at the price but found that it to be one of the smarter investments I've made for my brain. Similar to TED Talks, speakers lecture for 45 minutes, followed by a Q&A. Had I not bought season tickets, I would not have exposed myself to people like General John Kelly, met President-elect Joe Biden or heard Donna Brazile and Michael Steele banter on stage (she's the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, and he's former chair of the Republican National Committee). With Brazile and Steele, we might have expected a knock-down, drag-out fight. Instead, we found two folks intelligently expressing their views and chiding each other good-naturedly on stage.

The series is now offered as a Zoom subscription with talks by musician Wynton Marsalis, stand-up comic W. Kamau Bell, reporter Anderson Cooper, travel guru Rick Steves, former British Prime Minister Theresa May, filmmaker Ken Burns and neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman.

I'd never heard of Eagleman before and was pretty much blown away by his discussion of how the human brain works with time perception, dreams, plasticity and neurolaws. He spoke about several kinds of experiments, with one in particular about rats in cages. When rats are placed into confined spaces, they end up with low neuron activity. By changing their environment and giving them more freedom, they experience more creativity and more brain activity.

Many of us have been feeling caged for most of 2020. Whether you work in a restaurant that turned from packed tables to takeout only or were forced to work from home because the boss closed the doors for COVID-19 safety reasons, you may have felt cooped-up, restricted, even a little stir crazy. Sadly, not much will change in the first quarter of 2021. Having a vaccine doesn't mean the pandemic will instantly go away.

But for those potential real estate buyers waiting to purchase until spring when the market cools a little, fuggedaboudit! If you don't buy sooner rather than later, prices will go up, not down. Locally, property values went up 10%-20% in 2020 along the Wasatch Front and prices are expected to rise just as much if not more in some areas.

My words of wisdom for those feeling caged in the safe spaces they call home: remodel, pack and purge to declutter. Get pre-approved for a mortgage and get into the buying game. You'll get beat up when making offers, but with a wise strategy, you'll win. Getting free from your cage will be good for your mind—and your soul.