Category Archives: Grey Matter

My Theory on Everything

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Childhood’s End

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Childhood’s end is a tragic place. It is tragic not so much because of the loss of innocence – loss of innocence being something that diminishes slowly from the time of birth – but rather for the imagination that often becomes trampled into submission with our entry into the world of grown-ups.

I strongly believe that I write because a part of my imagination has mutinied against my logical mind, the part designed to assimilate in order to better survive. This mutinous part of me simply refuses to grow-up. The result of this is that I am in ways at odds with myself and therefore (unsurprisingly) at odds with the world as it is. What complicates this further is that my imagination has in ways now made an uneasy truce with my logical mind. My imagination has argued its survival. It has done this most formidably on the grounds of empathy.

This is my imagination’s argument:

“We assimilate into society, often shedding our more imaginative natures for more practical endeavours, in order to contribute to our own advancement and improve our well being, and also to contribute to the betterment of society at large. However, the shedding of our imaginations can in fact contribute to a less harmonious society.

“Unfortunately the dangers faced in society generally tend to stem from our fellow man – whether it be via physical assault, or the insult of a co-worker, or otherwise being taken advantage of. Now imagine a world where people had a heightened sense of empathy. Imagine a world where, before uttering an unkind word or taking advantage of someone else, the potential perpetrator would first feel the hurt that he/she was about to inflict. The idea here is that it would probably be a better world where people would only do unto others as they would have done unto them. However, in order to achieve this it would be necessary for them to establish a practice of putting themselves in other’s shoes, to empathize with others so that they would not wish to cause them hurt or pain.

Imagination facilitates empathy by better allowing us to put ourselves in other’s shoes. People have dulled their imaginations, focused on dealing with the realities right in front of them to such an extent that they can commit acts that take no consideration of the inner world of others. It is that inner world which is most damaged for the victim, scars being dealt with for years after by the verbally or physically abused, etc. Imagination breeds empathy, and empathy breeds consideration for others. When we build our imagination it develops our consciousness and consideration for thoughts, ideas and feelings outside of our own immediate realm of existence. This allows us to better sympathize or empathize with our fellow man and therefore make us more harmonious members of a society. So don’t undervalue the imagination.”

There are other arguments that imagination puts forward (about its links to creativity in problem solving and inventiveness, etc.) – but the empathy argument is the one that most gets me. My logic has accepted it as well. Over the last several years they have fought to find ways of continuing their truce, of providing each its own turn and place at the wheel, and occasionally placing hand there together in unison.

I consider myself a pretty logical person, but I could never imagine not imagining.

On a Side Note… or a bun

In all these mysteries surrounding life and why we live it… there are a few things that I feel I have learned along the way. It seems to me that a blog is a good place to share them, so here goes…

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5 Hamburger Rules:

  1. No bun should be bigger than the patty placed upon it
  2. If it’s not beef, it’s not a burger
  3. “Bacon” means Bacon… no ‘substitute’ should be billed ‘Bacon’
  4. Vegetables are trivialities (aka. garnish) and, as such, should never detract from the beef
  5. I don’t actually have a 5th… however, I wanted to use this space to ask whether sesame seeds have any purpose in hamburgers (or life in general) whatsoever…?

Memory’s Embrace

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So I’m having a bad day.

I was wondering, “When did life become so difficult?’ when it occurred to me that it probably always was.

Infancy itself is pretty traumatic when you think about it: We enter a new and strange environment, assaulted by stimuli and surrounded by hairy giants who poke us and prod us and blare sounds at us in a foreign tongue which are like trumpeted versions of quiet whispers we may have heard in a dream in our womb.

Luckily (if we are so lucky) there is at least one giant who seems familiar, whether through scent or instinct. And hopefully (if we are again lucky enough) she will try her best to be gentle and comfort us.

Quickly we must learn to adapt, to communicate. We acquire our motor skills, we learn what enrages the giants and eventually why it enrages the giants. Then, just as we are getting comfortable we are ushered off to another location to have knowledge and discipline drilled into our brains.

A few years ago my nephew was clever enough to come to a realization. Awakened early one morning to get ready for school, he sat dejected on the edge of his bed and said, “I don’t like it.” When asked what it was he didn’t like, he elaborated: “Well right now I have to go to school and work hard so that I can get into a secondary school, where the work is even more difficult. Then, when I’m done that, I’ll have to go to University, where the work is even more difficult. Then, after that, I’ll have to get a job and work even harder… It never ends!” He hung his head sorrowfully and reiterated, “I don’t like it.”

My nephew, at age 6, was on to something.

It’s amazing that so many of us look back on our childhoods as a happy time, considering how many new and sometimes frightening and often challenging situations were thrown at us in such a short space of time. We can say that it is perhaps because we were taken care of, because we had some form of parental figure that we trusted to make everything all right in the end or that we didn’t have to worry about food on our tables or a roof over our heads.

While this is certainly true, I can’t help thinking that this system for worry didn’t take these advantages into account when we were younger. In fact, I think I was more likely to believe I could literally die of embarrassment when I was a kid. I tend to think that, while it is certainly the presence of a kinder support system that would contribute to this feeling of childhood being a happier time, it is also memory that helps. Memory (although it can hold on vividly to many negative experiences) has an ability to allow us easier access to more pleasant experiences. Memory is the opiate of the masses.

With all of this in mind, I have decided to try to focus today on those scenes which may provide happier recollections in the future – simultaneously I’m trying not to worry too much about those problems that will be forgotten, that my memory will paint over with time.

So, I’m having a bad day… But it’s not such a bad day.

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My Memory, brush in hand,

Paints strokes of childhood content;

Soft lit fields and mango trees,

Cool nights and hot cocoa,

daubed with marshmallows.

And when timeouts

and skinned knees,

rear their ugly heads,

My Memory simply says,

“Let’s cover these with teale.”

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I am also going to take into account that today is International Hug Day. And, in honour of my Mom (that first gentle giant), I’m going to try to dole out as much comfort and support as I can… even if it is just a hug.

Happy International Hug Day! January 21st 2014

Welcome to the World (No refunds)

I have been away for a while and am trying to get this back up and running for 2014 – but perhaps it is good to have had the break.

You see, I’ve been waxing philosophic (or as close as I come to it) all in order to create a perspective for myself (and perhaps you, if you feel it applies): That, in the midsts of all this Universal grandeur, atoms should conspire, DNA should combine, and Fate should slap her knee and… Snap! Crackle! Pop! … I am born.

And how does one respond to being brought into the world? Being handed the Miracle of Life?

Why kicking and screaming of course! “I didn’t ask for this!”

Well, kid, it’s a done deal.

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Climb that ladder!

So we are off on our quest, shoved out of warm safety and slapped by a stranger, “Welcome!” and from here we attempt to figure out the strange customs of this place where we will be bombarded by mixed messages, temptations and desires and, in the end, the inescapable The End.

So what’s this journey all about? Is there a meaning to life? Is it just about survival? Is it about achieving the most comfortable survival? Is it profound enlightenment? Is it to party til you drop?

Life is a game that arrives unexpectedly without any instructions.

And people who have been staring at it a little longer than you will be trying to tell you what the rules are… but they’re not really that convincing because they didn’t get the rulebook either.

So here I am just trying to work it out in my own way. I don’t have any answers as yet. I’ll let you know if I find any (please let me know if you do) but I will keep exploring it here… Though for now I’ll just content myself with trying really hard not to be the thimble.

Perspectivicity

So here we are, born of light and constantly threatened with extinguishing ourselves.

When one thinks of the evolution of the Universe (or Universes as recent science would suggest), it is amazing to think of ourselves as these minute bodies crawling over the face of a planet, and to contemplate the numerous molecules swirling around to make up an individual, and then the numerous thoughts that zoom through any given persons mind in a given moment.

It amazes me, given the quantity of information or stimuli this implies, that anyone can be sure or certain of anything in this world. It seems to me a much better bet that we’re all just making it up as we go along and trying to do the best that we can. And in the end, if we all realise that we are going to make mistakes and are entitled to make those mistakes, perhaps we would better be able to accept that others will make mistakes too.

Here’s a quote I particularly like:

“Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.” – Serbian proverb

I know that Seasame Street had a major impact on my formative years, and here’s one in particular that I think so simply clever, it’s profound:

In the end, it’s all a matter of perspective.

A Movement

Particles hurling outwards and coalescing in stars and planets, in spirals of DNA, in animals flying, crawling, darting, pouncing, in humans running, dancing. Everything forms and changes shape, constantly moving; supernovas and lives extinguishing and reforming in new shapes like relationships and loves.

To open one’s eyes and truly see, is to be amazed. Here are we standing, processing a world of light, developing a means of interaction to subsist. Our perception is limited to what we need to know, yet we probe beyond to discover the Wizard behind the curtain, the dimensions unseen. What has imbued us with this curiosity (that may or may not have killed the Schrodinger’s cat)?

The world continuously turns, and changes. As individuals we strive to define ourselves separate and apart from it, to dominate and seek mastery so that we may exert our control over our own fates. Yet we simultaneously long to find our place within it, to connect to it through understanding, vibration or intimacy. This is the Ying and Yang that drives me, the conflict that moves me. We are rebel children pandering for our parents attention and some universal affection, looking for love we have already been given.

The Universe is the big gift. And that you are alive is the big miracle.

A Tangent: Relatively Speaking

 Einstein’s theory of relativity showed that an event in itself can vary, depending on the state of the observer.

Growing up in Trinidad I always felt a little out of place. As a young adult I found myself in school in Canada. It was there, in University, amidst bar room discussions with fellow students (the better-part of my tertiary education) that I began to really examine my feelings about Trinidad. I had to explain to others that there were differences in outlook, in the approach to things. Friends would invariably ask me which I preferred.

I eventually settled upon an analogy to explain to my Canadian friends an underlying difference: Canadians celebrate ‘New Years’ – Trinis celebrate ‘Old Years’.

While this seems simply a dialectic choice in stating the same thing, it seems to me that the choice itself speaks something about the mentality of the speaker. A celebration of New Years suggests a celebration of a new beginning, a new start. It is a celebration of the potential of things to come. Inversely, the celebration of Old Years suggests a celebration of all that has gone before. It is the celebration of an ending of something.

Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but it is an illustration of an idea that seems to reflect in the society’s behaviour. Trinidadians are not planners, we do not look ahead. This is not to say that we are not capable. Trinidadians ability to strive and get ahead when they go abroad is legendary. However, that also suggests that our culture is not conducive or encouraging to that locally.

Don’t get me wrong. There are fallacies to the ‘New Years’ approach as well. Many of my Canadian schoolmates embodied that in their rush to move forward, to achieve for the sake of achievement, while never really stopping to appreciate what they have. But from a cultural perspective this still provides greater benefit for the country as a whole.

I have always felt frustrated with the smallness of thinking that accompanies the ‘Old Years’ mentality. Conversations about ‘what you did last weekend,’ are common. Discussions on ‘where you see yourself or the country in ten years’ are rare. The most long-term planning most Trinis do is for Carnival – the irony being that for months in advance we are making arrangements for the two days we will officially not worry about anything.

The decision as to whether you prefer a ‘New Years’ or an ‘Old Years’ approach is an individual one. I was once told about Canada; “The same things right with this country are the same things wrong with it.” The same thing applies here. It’s just a matter of what you prefer.

Unfortunately for me the society as a whole embraces an ‘Old Years’ mentality. Or perhaps I should say, unfortunately for me, I embrace a ‘New Years’ mentality. People are happy in their recreations, where I feel as though I’m just killing time. Perhaps it’s working out better for them. It really is just a matter of perspective.

Which brings me back to Einstein. In developing his theory of relativity, Einstein envisioned riding a particle of light, shooting away from the earth. He imagined glancing over his shoulder and realized that, from his perspective time on earth would have appeared to stop. To have dwelt on the implications of this, I’m pretty sure Einstein would have had to be a ‘New Years’ man. Although I guess one can argue from the story that there are benefits to looking back.

I like the image though, of Einstein astride his light beam, looking back as he shoots forward at the speed of light. It seems the best of both worlds.

I guess it’s all relative.

Interesting stuff from “The Faustian Apprentice”

The Faustian Apprentice

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With all the pollution, haze from chemtrails, and reflected light from our cities, we often fail to recognize the real significance of the SIZE of our VISIBLE universe (it is well possible that there is more out there, and that light has not yet reached us, 13.7 Billion Light Years away!).  Instead, we are left, often with barely a handful of stars and planets that are visible in the night sky.

Seeing only these, it becomes very easy to imagine ourselves the chosen creation of whatever god you wish to call upon.  It becomes easy to think ourselves unique and somehow important, relative to all we see around us.  We say to ourselves, “Behold my divine heritage!  I am to have dominion over all things of the earth!”  And as we run rampant, harvesting, extracting, and destroying, we content ourselves in the thought that somehow, all this will be magically…

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