The great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas had it right. “Do not go gentle into that good night,” he wrote. “Old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Great advice.

There has been a groundswell of advice in social media these days on how to stave off the dying of that light in your brain that has been dimmed by overexposure to West Wing carnival clown rides and streaming of “America’s Got Talent.”

Many words have been written and spoken about keeping your mind active, open to receiving new information, new ideas, new relationships.

The great Mickey Rooney had eight wives, and that’s beaucoup relationships. Mickey claimed that freshening up his domicile every few years kept his brain young. I guess it did. He lived to 93. I plan to do the same — live to 93, that is. I’m an aged veteran of multi-relationships. Trust me, they’re not as much fun as they look in the movies.

The idea tossed about by online scholars who research this sort of thing tells us that the way to keep body and mind young is to get out in the village and talk to people: mechanics, teachers, shopkeepers, cops, barbers — especially barbers.

Students of all sizes, ages and nationalities pepper our streets, vibrant millennials who can teach us the latest memes and tropes and how to avoid hitting the “send” button accidentally and complicating our lives.

I should add here (in an extravagant flourish of self-interest) that reading your daily newspaper is also a great way of keeping your brain cells active, and in turn keeping me solvent.

You don’t read the paper, you say? You get your news from CNN or NBC, do you?

When was the last time someone on CNN or MSNBC told you that Mickey Rooney had eight wives? I mean, that’s info you can pass onto your kids and grandkids. Life ain’t all about the Kardashians, you know.

Legend has it that Sophocles, the Greek philosopher and teacher, spoke to his students while sitting on a fountain in the town square in Athens. We don’t have any fountains in central Maine anymore, not even in Waterville, a city with “water” in its name. Sad.

But we have fountains of learning aplenty.

I give you the barber shop. Every small town and city in Maine has a barber shop, and even today, when the town barber is called a “stylist,” a Sophocles with scissors has always been the fountain of local gab.

Even as a child, everything I learned I picked up in Joe’s Barber Shop on the corner of Virginia Avenue and Holly Hills, the best “fountain” of knowledge on the block.

I learned, for example, which of my five brothers was dating which neighborhood girl, and that three of them were fighting over Carmen Menendez, whose father owned a cigar factory. Bud won, but then while he was in the Navy, she married a baseball player, and Bud gave up cigars.

When I got off the bus here in Waterville, there were four primo places I had to locate at once: the best doctor, the local movie theater, the best bar and the best barber shop.

Still fresh from the palaces of glitter in Hollywood and still crowned with a glorious topping of black hair, the barber shop came first. A good doctor is important, but as Billy Crystal told us in his best Fernando Lamas voice: “It’s better to look good than feel good, you know what I’m saying to you?”

In Hollywood, my daughters have their hair done in very expensive “fountains” providing multiple sources of information in various “languages.”

There is an Asian woman who does their nails, yet another from a different country who does their eyebrows. Then there is the hair guy who dishes all the Hollywood street gossip, which keeps them “in the know.” All of this beauty treatment that comes with important info also comes with astronomical costs.

Will the GOP pass a health bill? Will Hillary run again? Will Starbucks open a new shop in the Concourse Colby dorm?

I have a haircut appointment on Wednesday. I’ll let you know.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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