Friday, 31 May 2013

Hot water is a luxury

"Little" Post #2:

So it's really hot out today and maybe it is odd to be thinking about hot water.

But it is one of those little things that we take for granted since most of us no longer have to go and fetch the water, carry the heavy load back and wait forever and a day for it to boil over a fire or an old stove. Which as a side track makes me think of Ruth schlepping buckets of water back and forth to do her multitude of hard housework on Victorian Farm. I love this show as well as Edwardian Farm and I highly recommend both series! Funny how I would think of a documentary re-enactment and not about our actual forefathers and mothers who really did do that work. Or had servants do it for them. Or were the servants.

And it’s a luxury to which I would like to pay tribute, albeit with some guilt as my use of hot water is in direct conflict with my attempts at being environmentally conscious. There are the obvious benefits to hot water - the guarantee that you blasted the germs on your tea towels in the washing machine, the al dente noodles you need for your carb overload week-end indulgence or the hot cup of lemon, honey and ginger infusion so soothing when you have a bad cold. OK - those last two technically require you to boil water but you get my point.

But the best "instant" hot water experience is the long shower. Yes, I said long - it’s a luxury that I afford myself. Not monitarely, since my landlord pays for water, but from a time hogging, selfish, non-environmentally friendly perspective. I have few places to go for real alone, thinking time and it’s the one place where my kids won't disturb me. Not likely because they respect and appreciate that I need some time alone, but because what kid wants to catch their naked mum coming out of the shower!

During the long, hot shower I can tap into all my senses.

I see the beauty of the steam rising.

I hear the soothing pitter, patter of the droplets on the porcelain.

I taste that first spicy burst of peppermint on my tongue (ok, I admit I brush my teeth in the shower).

I feel the fingers of my H2O masseuse on my otherwise tense neck and back.

I breathe in deeply to experience the various scented shampoos, conditioners and body washes (all relatively eco-friendly and sulfate free of course).

And before this goes into erotica territory, it offers me the chance to stare off into space and think about the day to come or reflect on the day that was.

Its cathartic and its practical in that you come out clean both emotionally and physically, and so I thank you hot water that comes from my taps! And I apologize to you, David Suzuki!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

PhDs and the Collective Unconscious

"Big" Blog #2:

A few nights ago, I was having a heated debate with my friend on the value of the PhD both as a reflection of intelligence versus "street smarts" of the individual who holds such a degree, the practicality of the pursuit with respect to employment versus the monetary cost to society, and whether it really is just a masturbatory exercise (much like writing this blog).

Although this topic is worthy of  further discussion, it is not in itself the real topic of today's blog.

The morning after our dialogue, an article turns up in the Globe and Mail ( that examined the merit, and the current and future needs of PhDs in Canada.

So I started thinking about why does this happen, and I am sure to most of us more often than we think? How often have I had an idea for a room design, an outfit, a blog, a business idea and then it shows up in a magazine, on TV, or in another random conversation? Do we loosely pass it off as serendipity? Chance? Irony? Happenstance? Are they related to the strength of our relationships? What is the probability of these occurences happening within a lifetime? And what would be the point of even trying to measure? Are we seeing this happen more because of our virtual networks?

The experience took me back to my fourth year undergrad when I decided to explore the world of literature and philosophy (after having completed 3 "neutral" years in biology). In one of my courses, of which I can't really remember the name of, but was some sort of theoretical literature course, we discussed Jung's proposal of the "collective unconcious" . Was this the explanation I was looking for? Is there some constant current that runs through our intellectual "air" where we all have the same predisposition to the same thoughts?

As it turns out, the concept and the interpretation of the "collective unconcious" is more complicated than I had hoped and would require me to do a lot more re-reading. What peaked my interest on Wikepedia was this - "Healy...claiming that Jung himself 'dared to suggest that the human mind could link to ideas and motivations called the collective unconscious...a body of unconscious energy that lives forever' was the idea of monopsychism.

And the thought was initially kind of depressing for anyone who considers themselves "creative" and/or "unique".

And so, it may be that there is a "stream" of collective ideas and thoughts we all tap into, but the good news is it is more likely an infinite universe which allows for the probability of common threads, but it is the expression of those ideas and thoughts that will never be exactly the same.

Someone already thought about and wrote something similar to what I just said - but not as it is written. It is therefore a comforting thought that I can continue on with Moon Worms!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The old man in the road

This is my "Little" Post #1:

Yesterday I was driving across town for a meeting and although I was not late, I suppose I was driving a wee bit over the speed limit. As I was coming around a corner, I could see this old man, and I say old man because he had long grey hair and a very weathered face. Its possible he was missing some teeth and had been wearing the same pants and stained t-shirt for months. So he could have been younger than his outside self was showing. It is also possible that he was wearing a necklace - a thin black leather band accompanied by several charms hanging over his upper chest. The event that followed was strange and my first thought after the encounter was - pay attention to the signs.

I could see him weaving through the stopped traffic on the opposite side. All of a sudden he jumped in front of my car shouting at me to "slow down, slow down - you are too fast, too fast" - all the while shaking his furious hand at my windshield and looking me directly in the eye.

Luckily I had been slowing down already. And I obviously stopped. In my uncomfortable nervousness with the situation I motioned for him to move along. I impatiently told him to "go, go" pointing to the sidewalk. As if I was in a rush. He eventually through his arms up in the air as if he was giving up on me and half hobbled, half ran across the remaining street.

I must admit I was a little shaken. And then I started thinking. He is right. I need to slow down and not drive so fast to and through life, my relationships, my art, my writing, my everything. As the great Ferris Bueller once said "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

I am going to look around and do it often. The beauty of this morning included that leaf pattern in my almond milk foam floating on top of my latte. I slowed down, even if just for a moment, to enjoy its perfection.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Big and Little

I have made a commitment. To myself. To write something every day that muses on a "big" life theme or philosophy and alternate that with an observation on a "little" thing that made me smile or a great story I heard from someone else. So today I am starting "big".

Spurred by a combination of a conversation/observation of an event with a family member yesterday and a self assessment of my style on Adam Grant's website: I have been thinking about what it means to give and persevere in giving without expecting anything in return.

I think part of it has to do with your natural personality - there are those of us in the world that can't help themselves. And sometimes it feels like a curse. Every once in a while you just want it to boomerang back to you - all the time and effort and thoughtfulness and helping and money and planning and, and, and...

As givers I think we just need to let go and embrace it - and that does not translate to letting people walk all over you, or saying "yes" to everything that is asked of you. What we have to remember is that we can be in control of our own giving. It is us that determines what we decide to give even though for the most part that will be a lot!

Letting go also means not getting frustrated with those who are not natural givers. The world needs receivers too or to whom would we give? And get it out of your head that some receivers are more deserving than others - it doesn't matter - ultimately you are really doing this for you. Because to do so is to be true to yourself.

“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” - Kahlil Gibran

I am planning on reading Mr. Grant's book - and I am sure I will have more to say on this topic in the future.