I happened onto Dictionary.com this week (what a distracting place!) and saw that one of their feature articles reported on a study that concluded that being actively bilingual can stave off dementia for another five years. The article is here.
Everyone knows that practicing a language is one of the best things you can do for your brain, but I am especially comforted by these findings because I've spent most of my life dedicated to becoming fluent in Spanish, which is not a language that was spoken at home. At all, ever. I'm not aware that anyone in my immediate family ever considered the concept of "Spanish" before I came along shouting about it, inspired by who knows what past life experience or divine inspiration.
But then of course another part of me says, "Twenty years of passionate discovery and relentless practice, expensive but joyful travel and the emotional Calvary that is graduate school, plus all the movie-watching, conversation-seeking and music-listening I do in the future, and it only buys me five years at the most?"
This brain of ours is one demanding organ.