Category Archives: thinking out loud
As long as I can think back, there was only one subject I ever pursued – with persistent commitment. Yes, there were other pathways, but they were picking-daisies kinds, never holding my attention for long. Nothing could quench that quest not even family and children. While I had a fabulous go at it, I was running a comprehensive experiment to supply me with data about my one and only question: what is life?
There is a dilemma though: how can you objectively look at life, while you’re alive? Yet what other chance have I? Or rather has my mind?
To life itself my being alive or dead is a negligible factor; it’s my mind that is making the difference and wants to understand life.
Obviously, the experiment isn’t over until I take my last breath, but I can always give an update as to the progress…
So the latest update is:
There is no life except in the body. All reality is in the body. And when you consider that the body functions without the mind most of the time, then the notion that life is in the world must be a construct.
It seems to me that the mind notoriously disrespects the body and there for creates reasons of its own. Perhaps it’s merely oblivious, but the mind has the gift of focusing on what’s important.
When the body is healthy the mind isn’t aware of it, turning outward to the world.
Maintaining awareness of the body is living, and living well.
Thinking back over the summer in Romania, what stood out is the executive role I consistently took in order to get things done. There was no letting up, one thing led to the other, and I got the hang of it after an initial rough phase.
My life here in Germany consists of flowing with events, rather than initiating processes. If I wished to do so, I’d have to up my lifestyle which is cumbersome. Here, being on the active side of life doesn’t increase my quality of life. Not so in Romania. Every little thing I do makes my life better.
This year, settling back into the winter routine seems uncomfortable. The confines feel narrow and I can’t find my step. Feels like changes are ahead.
Summer means country life for me, in the rural Transylvanian mountains. For the first time I am connected while here, with the internet at my fingertips through my htc phone. I wondered how that would work out.
As a matter of fact, it makes less and less of a difference… to previous years. Life unplugged is just so overwhelming and demanding, that one has to carve out a few minutes to check the streams, online ones that is.
Rural life does not succumb easily to my online presence.
However I noticed that while my personality here in Transylvania is different from the one at home, my online personality has not changed and exerts a comforting stability in the back of my mind.
photo © 2010 Kirsty Andrews | more info (via: Wylio)Admitted: I play Solitaire on my phone. At first, my eyes sort of squinted, as the screen was too small. But whaddya know, my eyes got used to it. Actually, my fingertips are ravished with the cool smoothness of the phone’s surface. My touch finds a response in a slight quiver, as though the phone was alive. The tiny cards snap into place.
Aunt Martha would have been moved to tears. She was so tedious in her play, so careful not to upset the stacks.
When you didn’t grow up with them, smartphones, notebooks and tablets are somewhat of a challenge to handle – at first. Eventually, when efficiency sets in, the ease of doing things is enthralling. I often feel like – not one, not two, no like all three of Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmothers. They changed whole outfits at the wave of a wand, I do it with a tap of my fingertip.
Y’know, I’m an early baby boomer. When I was a tot, vinyl records were the rage. We used to huddle around the radio. In the seventies and eighties, I thought that video tapes and walkmen were incredibly nouveau. We would carefully slide the records into paper covers and rewind the cassettes back and forth to make sure they didn’t get crinkles.
I look at the care of the designers, to make gadgets sensually attractive. Have you noticed, that in nature there are no parallel lines, no perfect circles, no smooth surfaces? No level paths, no straight edges, no rectangles? The knowledge of these used to be magical mysteries, so much so, that masons and builders died for them.
Our ancestors would have been awed at the mere make and shape of our world, never mind the feats we accomplish, the mysteries into which we have delved and the refinement we have achieved.
We live with far more ease than the nobility of a few decades ago. The power of sending our words around the world…
Sometimes I cannot stand the mindlessness of taking it all for granted. Gratitude is the only attitude that behooves us.
We talk when our personality has come under fire. It’s a last stand our linguistic brain takes to assert itself and construct a sense of personality.
Sometimes I have to leap across a barrier to overcome silence. It’s like leaving the embrace of a good friend that doesn’t want to let go. And talk then is like a babbling brook that won’t be stopped until the source runs dry.
Never bother about what a person says, look for what he/she doesn’t say.
When I talk, there is so much more I’m not talking about. The silent tears, the upwelling sadness, the dread of company, the futility of trying… it’s all wiped away when I use that most cunning of human gifts: the gift of the tongue.
It’s quite possible to self-hypnotise this way, creating illusion, creating reality… what’s the difference? It’s near impossible to remain silent. Company means joyous rustling of colorful peacock feathers. The dull bird is the odd one out.
And then, I return to my lonely friend, silence, collecting her due for the time of absence. It makes me wish that I had never opened my mouth and dispensed with energy at such cost.
My assessment has touched on writing as well. Crafting word to word, thought to thought, building stories, recapturing memories: it’s a good thing that the end of it is a mystery. Unfortunately I’ve come to believe that mysteries when unveiled are mostly platitudes: the obsession with words is a service we do to ourselves. There is nothing wrong with it: we play a game.
But as it goes with games: never take them too seriously. Always remember it’s just a game. Victory will be less husky, defeat less debilitating.
And life goes on.
(This is an article in simple English for my students.)
Nothing has changed daily life like the automobile. It changed modern society and is part of Germany’s industry.
It was not easy, in the beginning. People laughed at the first car. It had three wheels and a stinking, noisy one-cylinder engine. It was a horseless coach. Carl Benz made a patent for his invention on January 25, 1886. He did not know what to use the car for.
Then, one August morning in 1888, his wife Bertha secretly took their 13- and 15-year-old sons and drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim to visit her mother. The trip is 106 km.
After 45 km they ran out of fuel which was a cleaning fluid. She bought some at a pharmacy.
Also, the motor overheated, so they had to refill water at every roadside inn they found. On uphill slopes they had to push the car. Berta fixed the brakes with leather pads and repaired the ignition cable. She cleaned the fuel duct with a pin from her hat.
When Berta later returned to Mannheim, people were more interested in cars and inventors started having ideas on how to make cars better. Berta had proven that the horseless coach was absolutely suitable for daily use.
Without this brave woman’s trip we might not have cars today.
In May 2008 a sculpture was placed in Pforzheim to remember Bertha Benz’ first car journey.
Read the full article here.
Dan Gilbert did this famous TED talk about ‘Why we are happy?’ Why? Because happiness can be synthesized. It’s not a thing to be found. There are mind artists who – under the most adverse circumstances – make the best of their situation to the point that they are convinced that it’s the best thing that could have happened to them.
I am one of those people. The less I have, the simpler the circumstances, the narrower the options, the happier I am. It’s weird, but consistent. Synthesised happiness for me is much more fulfilling than experienced happiness – for several reasons:
It’s reproducible. It’s cheap. It’s instant. It’s self-sufficient. It’s mine.
Wanting spells unhappiness. Submerged deep in my mind are the memories of wishing, delighting, wanting and desiring the things a little girl’s world holds: a new doll, a game, lace and ribbons, diaries and jewellery boxes with secret compartments. When these wishes bubbled to the surface of my mind, they were met with sternness: “You don’t really need it.” Or worse, litanies of supposed misbehavior and attitudes showed up how undeserving I was.
I quickly learned that the real treasures were in my mind.