Monday, May 27, 2019

Fixing a Hole

After the doctor's appointment, I headed back to my car. Rounding the corner to the area where I had parked, slightly preoccupied, I was forced to swerve suddenly to avoid two women standing right in my way, cigarettes in their hands. I didn't have time to notice the trash can with a nasty bit of sharp metal sticking out. The good news; it didn't connect with any part of my body. The bad news; it caught a bit of the bottom of my blouse and there it was - a 1 cm (3/8 inch for my US readers) wide hole, ruining my blouse! Grrrr... I liked that top, and now it was garbage.

At home, K reminded me of the suggestion Tom sent in an earlier post to my other blog. His wife Lucy mended his shirt in a decorative way. The problem became an opportunity!

Here is a snap of the repaired blouse:


Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Accepting Responsibility

Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards

Søren Kierkegaard
While in university, many decades ago, as part of first year studies at a university that believed in a well-rounded education, I took my first humanities course; Ancient Near Eastern Studies. While I had never enjoyed a history class before, this was a revelation. In retrospect they were right to require such a course in a bachelor of arts program; it turned out most of what I studied of value while at university had nothing to do with mathematics, and I ended my stay there with a  bachelor degree, major in mathematics and minor in humanities. At any rate, in second year I studied existential thought. Required readings included Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death along with some of Sartre's writings. 

Under the heading of wondering where ideas come from, I intend to re-read some of Kierkegaard's writings, if only to see how closely the author's understanding of religion and submission to a higher power parallel my own (or vice versa, I suppose). 

A couple of things that I took away from those readings years ago stand out. First, they reinforced my belief that, although the religious in society didn't want you to accept this, one isn't less of a Christian if you keep your devotion private. In fact, the true Christian is privately devoted first, and publicly devoted second - if at all.

The other thing I took away is that one should accept responsibility for the consequences of their decisions. Perhaps I should have found more balance in this part of my education. As a people-pleaser, taking responsibility came way too easily to me. In retrospect, it would have been a good thing for me to have given some blame to others. I might even have showed anger (heaven forbid) at their behaviour as a way to clear the air. A good argument might have made some relationships stronger. Sadly, you can't go back and fix things. 

It seems to me that a positive result of being determined to take responsibility through one's life is a fearlessness when contemplating consequences. Because you have faced and accepted tough situations without blaming others, you tend to be more decisive when facing choices. Oh, I always gather as much information as possible, but when my mind is made up, it takes me no time to act.

In the future* I intend to remember that taking all the responsibility for situations and being decisive aren't necessarily ways to make lots of friends, in fact you may lose some.

*I've heard the phrase "Going forward" used instead of "In the future" so often lately that it came to mind. I really dislike that phrase but I'm not sure why. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Where Did All the Crap-Detectors Go?

There is a phrase young folk use that I really like. When someone is saying something that they know can't be true, something that sets off their crap-detector, they tell them "I'm calling bullshit on that!"

The term crap-detector might have been coined, and was certainly used, by Earnest Hemingway, writing about the qualities a good writer must have. My personal use of the term stretches back into my youth. Young folk should always be suspicious and I certainly was.

In my opinion, the purpose of a good education is to give young folks the ability to think critically and, especially, to think for themselves. As a parent, this was something I made sure both our children had.

These days a crap-detector is more important than ever, with so much nonsense on the internet and in the media, cleverly cloaked to seem plausible and factual. Some might think, because the big lie has made such a striking return in the past three years, that concern in the educational community about this is new, however, here is a good article from 2013, "The Art and Science of Crap Detection".

In the last few decades, educators in North America have been pressured to devote less time to encouraging critical thought by the introduction of standardized testing (a process of finding how well a student can regurgitate any form of nonsense put before them) by a series of neoliberal governments. Even when standardized tests include problem solving, the type of problem is predictable - designed so that students can be coached intensively. All of this coaching involves an emphasis on certain narrow skills. It does not involve development of the young person's critical thought processes.

There is little doubt that politicians and power brokers want, more than anything, to have a population that is easily led. A population taught to mindlessly regurgitate nonsense in order to pass a test is a perfect recipe for their ideal; a mindless and gullible electorate.

It seems to me that a trend in leadership for the mainstream political parties has been to select a front-person who can do the best distraction dance.

Some of these party leaders are quite amazing. Imagine a person who has had money and privilege all their life, who has openly stated their disdain for the poor in the past, managing to convince large groups of poor that in spite of the voting record of their party, they are "in it for the average working-class stiff". That sort of shell game works best on a populace that cannot manage, or be bothered, to know that the legislation being passed is almost exclusively designed to keep them poor and ignorant, and put more money into the hands of those who already have too much.

Can we find a way to move the focus of whole electorates to the truth of the bait-and-switch that is going on? Can anyone retune and set off the long neglected crap-detectors of whole nations?

I will not blindly trust information I find online. I will not ...

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Midlife - Crisis?

In general, a midlife crisis is thought of as a bad thing; a time of insanity. To me, nothing could be farther from the way things turned out, although there are likely many who will say insanity won out. 

In 2016 I started this blog with transcriptions of notes to myself written in my mid-thirties. Even then, truth was bubbling over and trying to get my attention. By my early sixties there was a choice to either pay attention to the voice (by then shouting in my head) or shut down the connection and wait for another lifetime to be authentic. 

Unlike a whispered voice in your head, when you write a blog, or a post in any social media, your thoughts may or may not reach someone who needs them. It is an act of faith, and, some might say, daring. 

I will freely admit to mixed feelings about social media. I have dabbled in one of the photo-sharing ones, mostly to see snaps and videos of my children and darling granddaughter. I went on the Face thing app years ago because groups I was part of were sharing ideas and snaps and what-have-you there. 

Once, social media did something wonderful for me. It changed my life by allowing one person I cared about very much to find me after a very long time. 

Mostly social media is good - for me - because it lets me know how people I hardly see are doing. 

And then there is this:

For those who are using a translated version, the text is included below, and here is a link to an article, the The Midlife Unraveling, by Brené Brown that includes the source of this quoted section. It is a wonderfully written article that takes the idea of the crisis and explains it so much better with the word unraveling

It seems to me that when the universe whispers, it speaks uniquely to each of us. In my case, she said "When you are lying on your deathbed, thinking your last thought, will it be of how happy you are to have led a safe life doing what you believed everyone else wanted?"

Going on your adventure isn't likely to make others in your world excited or even happy. They have to be responsible for going (or not going) on their own adventure. Not every adventure is pleasant at all times. They don't always have happy endings either. 

Caveat Emptor  

~   ~   ~

I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

"I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. 

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen."

~ Brené Brown