Sethe Be Crazy

As I have mentioned numerous times in my previous posts, insanity can be caused by a variety of factors, but they can always be classified into one of two groups: genetic or environmental factors.  Sethe, the main protagonist from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, is an excellent example of the impact environment can have on one’s sanity.

Normal, comfortable, stable, and happy are but a few words that would do absolutely nothing to describe Sethe’s life (words such as slavery, rape, broken home and ghost-of-my-murdered-baby-haunting-my-house would do much more justice).  The life of a slave, especially a female one, is an experience unmatched in torment and misery.  The physical and mental scarring Sethe had faced left its mark on her, and as a result caused her to make irrational decisions when she was faced with problems involving her past.  Sometimes, such behaviors were minor.  While a long-lost friend of hers, Sethe had a hard time being around Paul D. (at times), as he reminded her of a past life.  Here, nobody was harmed, Sethe was just trying to forget the past and avoid her inner pain (completely normal).  However, the damage done to Sethe’s mind ran much deeper than her awkward social graces around Paul D.

Remember that baby haunting Sethe’s house?  Well, spoiler alert, she killed it, in addition to nearly beating her two sons to death, and making her way to Denver.  Now, (maternal) filicide can usually be traced to some sort of mental disturbance.  The key factor here is that we know about what had happened to Sethe in her past.  She was a slave, and saw an old “friend” of hers attempting to halt her escape her, and her children’s, escape.  In Sethe’s mind, slavery was worse than anything, even death.  At the same time, the basic function of all species is to reproduce, and so to kill her own children would be to go against a basic human impulse, making the decision irrational.  This decision was based off of the impact left on her by her environment, and how the majority of people (even slaves at the time) would not have made such a brash decision.

While one decision in life is hardly enough to classify somebody as insane, it does show what that person is capable of, and where their so called “spark of insanity” lies.  In Sethe’s case, it was all in her past.  While the event itself is a horrible one, showing the grief she must have suffered in addition to bringing the life of a child to an end, what is interesting to note is how is goes against basic human impulses, leaving a small chance that her problems may lie (though not likely) within her genes.  Seldom does anyone, slave or free man of the time, have such an awful experience that they can turn away from humanity.

Visual Tolerance

TOLERANCE

When we are angry at mankind

 Or rave at some depravity of mind

When we would curse behaviour of a kind

To argue, rather than to view benign It is with our own self we battle wage

When choosing not to understand, nor to engage

With that from which we isolate our self

With anger sent, to where, perhaps is needed help

Lest fearful, reason may just find the time

With tenderness, to enter in our mind. And so it is perhaps from loss of our own face

We are so quick to shout of their disgrace But we should not lose sight of our own sins

Though, in different colours dressed, appear they in For is not all, of nature in this life?
The good, the bad, together, love, and strife

As nature, this is how such things will be

So it is not how loud we shout, but what we see And seeing do, to help, to liberate

To free with tolerance, not shut the gate

That is How it should be

– Egal Bohen

From this poem above written by Egal Bohen, we can tell that he is trying to bring across the point that in the end, the world and society must be free of intolerance and must begin to accept tolerance. “We are so quick to shout of their disgrace ” is one of the most important lines within this poem. This line explains to us how the human population is constantly viewing others and always judging them no matter what the case may be. It is true, we are all so quick to “shout” out the flaws of others and because they may have flaws, we tend to allow ourselves to distance ourselfs from them because we may not want to be associated with them. Being so quick to judge and disrespect another individual is what causes our society to be so segregated at times. Although we may preach the idea of intregration and becoming one, are we really?

Learning Through Buddhism

Buddhism has grown to be a major religion in the world, and while many think Buddhism is the teachings of the cheerful statue of Buddha that they so often see, the religion is much more than that.

The story of Buddhism, or enlightenment through Buddhism is told through five parts. Buddhism began with a prophet by the name of Siddhartha. When Siddhartha was born men predicted that he would be the Buddha, so his wealthy family tried to make life for him as comfortable as possible so that he would not leave their kingdom. Soon enough however, Siddhartha became sick of this lifestyle and wanted to roam the world. As he roamed Siddhartha saw so much pain and suffering that he wanted to end all of the problems that he observed. (This is where impressionism comes in)

Siddhartha came across a monk who had given up everything until all the pain and suffering in the world was resolved. In seeing the dedication this monk had, Siddhartha decided to be just like the monk in an effort to stop the pain and suffering. This monk left an impression on Siddhartha that lasted for six years as Siddhartha practiced the lifestyle of the monk. However, soon Siddhartha noticed that nothing was changing and this lead him to give up the monk’s lifestyle in order to make a difference in the world. This stage of Buddhism is called Renunciation, for renouncing the lifestyles of elders that left an impression on a younger generation. This was extremely important to Buddhism because by giving up this lifestyle Siddhartha was able to reach a stage of Enlightenment which is what Buddhism is centered around.

There are many other ideas about Buddhism, however the main three teachings of Buddhism are ones that relate to my topic:

1. Nothing is lost in the Universe

As this relates to impressions, every impression from an older generation has the ability to influence a new generation of people.

2. Everything Changes

People are always changing and the universe is also always changing, as people influence one another people’s perspectives, thoughts and personalities change.

3. Law of Cause and Effect

This law is talking about karma, the way we influence someone else either positively or negatively has the ability to influence the way they interact with someone else and the way the universe interacts with us.

 

Here is statue of Buddha (for good karma 🙂 )

Memory in Beloved

Since we are working on Beloved, I thought it was appropriate to discuss the meaning of ‘memory’ in the novel so far. Among Morisson’s incredibly rich choice of vocabulary and complicated path of narration, there are moments of clarity, of sanity. It takes a lot for the reader to understand what is going on in terms of context let alone figure out a hidden meaning or side concept. Memory is one of the only things throughout the novel that remains constant. The reader has a solid understanding of how memory fits in. The entire novel is based off of memory. The memory of Baby Suggs, Sethe, Paul D., Denver…Beloved, everyone has a memory. Everyone expresses emotion through memories.

The novel starts off with memories of being a slave, from being freed, from suffering loss, finding love, and it is because of all these recollections that we as readers are able to understand each character. We are able to go to the depth’s of their emotion because of memory. At one point, when Denver saw her mother praying by the side of her bed next to a ghost-like figure, the concept of ‘memory’ becomes readily apparent to the reader from Sethe’s perspective:

“What were you talking about?”

“You won’t understand, baby.”

“Yes, I will.”

“I was talking about time. It’s so hard for me to believe in it. Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my memory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place – the picture of it – stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around there outside my head. I mean, if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened” (38).

“Can other people see it?” asked Denver.

“Oh yes. Oh yes, yes, yes. Someday you be walking down the road and you hear something or see something going on. So clear. And you think it’s you thinking it up. A thought picture. But no. It’s when you bump into a rememory that belongs to somebody else. Where I was before I came here, that place is real. It’s never going away. Even if the whole farm – every tree and grass blade of it dies. The picture is still there and what’s more, if you go there – you who never was there – if you go there and stand in the place where it was, it will happen again; it will be there for you, waiting for you. So, Denver, you can’t never go there. Never. Because even though it’s all over – over and done with –  it’s going to always be there waiting for you. That’s how come I had to get all my children out. No matter what.”

“If it’s still there, waiting, that must mean that nothing ever dies”

“Nothing ever does.”
There is so much that can be taken out of this passage. Sethe brings up the physicality of memory, how even if something is physically gone, it is still sort of engraved in our minds. She shows almost an extreme emotional maturity, when she brings up the fact that Sweet Home still exists. Her past still exists. Probably, Sethe has images in her head of lavish plantation mansions, endless, bountiful fields. But she also has memories of shacks, whips, and pain. The pictures of the plantation and of her life as a slave will never leave her, even if that place is no longer physically existing.

“Nothing better than to start the day’s serious work of beating back the past” (77). 

Sethe also implies to Denver, that when revisiting your past, physically returning to a certain place, will cause you to remember everything about it. Everything you felt and experienced once will come back again. It’s waiting for you. That’s really just fascinating. It is an abstract way of interpreting memory, and again, it shows a lot of wisdom and emotional maturity.

Sethe ends with a bit of irony, when she says that nothing ever dies. Even though she may have lost all of her children, she is implying that none of them are dead in her memory. Physically, they are gone, but spiritually and emotionally they are within her. This is readily apparent with the presence of Beloved, and her daughter-like connection she seems to loath with Sethe.

Clearly, Morisson bases the entire novel off of memory.

How else can we say “warmth”?

Heat is another word for physical warmth
1. the state of a body perceived as having or generating a relatively high degree of warmth.
2. the condition or quality of being hot: the heat of an oven.
3. the degree of hotness; temperature: moderate heat.
4. the sensation of warmth or hotness: unpleasant heat.
5. a bodily temperature higher than normal: the heat of a fever; the feeling of heat caused by physical exertion.
Warmth can be experienced through mental and physical heat. Due to intense, pleasant emotions we can experience mental warmth. This warmth can increase happy feelings and create a sense of safety and belonging. Generally, mental and internal warmth can be experienced through the feelings created by another living being.
Physical, or external warmth, can be created and stimulated by such things as; the sun, a fire, light bulbs, blankets, etc. These things can help  us feel safe and comfortable in our environment. Being cold and not warm will create a feeling of anxiety and uncomfortable experiences for the living being the cold is affecting. Since birth, all living beings crave and need warmth. The feeling of physical warmth is a need that all humans must fulfill. Physical warmth (safety/shelter) is one of the levels of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that all humans must accomplish in order to live a happy, successful life. From birth we need the soft, warm touch of another human being to comfort us. This need falls under the category of belongingness and social interaction on Maslow’s chart. A baby’s cerebellum does not develop properly if they are not rocked and cradled but another loving, warm human being. The need for social and physical warmth can be connected back to the mental warmth because both are needed in order to survive and thrive in a social environment.

Uncertainty in Literature…and other places…

Often in literature, the author might leave many things uncertain. Some authors like to bash the reader in the head with what they are trying to say. For example, Mary Shelly in her work Frankenstein or Milton’s Paradise Lost. That is not always the case however. In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a story about a African American woman that escapes from slavery, there is much uncertainty. You can almost never figure out what is happening. There are so many ways to interpret the text and so many different feelings that the reader feels, that the reader just feels in a jumble. Not only is the action of the story uncertain- for the time of the book will shift back and forth until you feel like you are in the nightmare world that the main characters are in- but the feelings that the reader has are extremely uncertain. On one hand, you often feel sympathy for the horrors that the slaves go through. On the other hand, when you realize that the slave men are talking about having sex with cows and are fantasying about raping a young teenage girl, you still feel a little sympathetic to be honest, but you are really just disgusted and horrified, and confused and a little angry. To be honest, when reading the book, half the time I don’t know what to feel. The book is well written because I think that was what Morrison wanted to do. She wanted to focus on African American history and put it out in the open. This was what really happened and how slaves really lived and reacted. She was not trying to sugar coat it and make you just feel so sorry for the slaves. While you do sometimes, she also wanted you to feel other emotions- anger, disgust, wonder, confusion. She wanted you to feel these jumble of emotions and uncertainty in how you feel because that was often the life and mind of a slave. Plus, because you are uncertain of what you feel, you will want to keep reading- to try and figure out what is going on. She is not attempting to slap you in the face with what she is saying though- you are supposed to figure out her meaning. I may not have completely figured out what she is trying to say though. But I am sure that I feel uncertain in the text and in what is going on.

I can’t beleive
What you have done to me
My eyes they don’t deceive
Why aren’t you listening

We’re standing here
Your mouth stays closed
I’m still not clear
Why you left me standing here

You’re leaving me
Despite this tradgedy
My ears they don’t deceive
Why aren’t you coming clean

[X2]
I always thought that you would always be a friend to me
I never thought that you would end up my worst enemy
Don’t trust the lies that’s leading us into uncertainties
So full of jelousy I trust for you not trusting me

[X2]
Don’t be afraid to be yourself
Your confidence will always mend
Don’t be afraid to be yourself
Don’t be afraid to fight again

We’re standing here
Rejection; out of reach
It’s still not clear
Why you left me standing here

christmas-gift-economic-uncertainty-idea-girl-consulting-linda-randall

Musical Impressions

The Impressionist Movement was a time period in history during which art and music experienced a revolution. Instead of the normal harsh lines and incredibly detailed portraits of both people and landscapes artists began to express how they felt about things instead of what they saw. I detailed landscape therefore became a myriad of colors and blurred lines, expressing not what the artist saw but how he or she felt about the beauty of what they were seeing. Paralleling this idea, music became less detailed and was used to create mood or feeling instead of dictating a message to the listeners. Songs became shorter and more vibrant, scales became more exotic, and harmonies were created. This added much more depth and feeling to classical music then ever heard before. Major composers of this era include Debussy and Mozart. Their harmonies, instead of being used in a traditional way were used to tell a story, to push their listener to feel.

 

Here is an example of a piece by Debussy, notice the impressionist painting paired with the piece.

 

This is an example of a piece by Mozart. Mozart was especially well known for his ability to tell a story through music.

 

 

No Joke

A disease that I have commonly referred to when blogging is schizophrenia, and indeed, when most people think of insanity, the symptoms of this awful disease come to mind.  What makes this disease most interesting, though, is the several factors that can attribute to its onset.

Generally, diseases have one distinct cause (a faulty gene, a virus/bacteria, substance abuse, etc.).  Schizophrenia, however, can be caused by many factors, including depression, social disorders, and the precursors mentioned above.  The disease itself is a terrible experience, one that can leave the victim nearly incapable of cognitive processes.

Generally, schizophrenia takes time to reach full effect in a patient.  It will begin with hallucinations (and/or hearing voices), along with disorganized and rambling thoughts/speech.  At the point of diagnosis, the patient has usually become completely antisocial, isolating themselves.  In rare conditions, the subject will begin to bend into bizarre (and sometime painful) postures, a symptom commonly associated with possession.

There was one trait that separated schizophrenia with other disorders, however, and that is a supposed lack of self control.  Schizophrenia patients will often believe that their thoughts are being created by an external force, usually the voices or images they are sensing.  These ideas of “people in your head” are a common stereotypical symptom of a vague diagnosis of insanity.  Due to its severity and mind-altering nature, schizophrenia has become sort of a “poster child” for the insane.

Many people have experienced this disease.  Famed mathematician John Nash had delusions of government agents attempting to take his life.  While a genius, his disorder is believed to be of a genetic origin.  Another example is the now deceased musician Syd Barrett (founder of Pink Floyd), who had onset delusions from constant LSD abuse, leading to his eventual descent into schizophrenia.  Insanity can be many things, but for some reason, this one pops into our heads first. 

The Beauty of a Memory

I Had the Best Day…

There are certain songs that you can always play, and they will bring you back to a particular point in your life. This weekend my mother and I took a roadtrip down south, and listened to music all the way there. At one point, the song The Best Day by Taylor Swift came on and I was immediately whisked back to my childhood. My mother has been the biggest influence on my life, and as weird as it may seem, she is my best friend. She has always been there for me. When this song came out I was fifteen years old. My mom and I have considered this our song since because it explains almost everything we have been through together, while also signifiying the evolution that comes with a mother-daughter relationship as the years continue to pass.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4_6eQm7RTQ&ob=av2n

I’m five years old, it’s getting cold, I’ve got my big coat on
I hear your laugh and look up smiling at you, I run and run
Past the pumpkin patch and the tractor rides, look now, the sky is gold
I hug your legs and fall asleep on the way home

I don’t know why all the trees change in the fall
But I know you’re not scared of anything at all
Don’t know if Snow White’s house is near or far away
But I know I had the best day with you today

I’m thirteen now and don’t know how my friends could be so mean
I come home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys
And we drive and drive until we found a town far enough away
And we talk and window shop ’til I’ve forgotten all their names

I don’t know who I’m gonna talk to now at school
But I know I’m laughing on the car ride home with you
Don’t know how long it’s gonna take to feel okay
But I know I had the best day with you today

I have an excellent father, his strength is making me stronger
God smiles on my little brother, inside and out, he’s better than I am
I grew up in a pretty house and I had space to run
And I had the best days with you

There is a video I found from back when I was three
You set up a paint set in the kitchen and you’re talking to me
It’s the age of princesses and pirate ships and the seven dwarfs
And Daddy’s smart and you’re the prettiest lady in the whole wide world

And now I know why the all the trees change in the fall
I know you were on my side even when I was wrong
And I love you for giving me your eyes
For staying back and watching me shine
And I didn’t know if you knew, so I’m takin’ this chance to say
That I had the best day with you today

Education – A Video that is Really Interesting (and No, I am Not Cheating By Posting a Video)

I know, I know. I would rather read your stories that watch a pre-made video on the chosen word, but Sir Ken Robinson, the speaker in the video, is SO engaging. He makes so many relevant points. I wish I could teach like he does….or at least have the cool cartoonist he uses to illustrate points I make as I teach….(think of my stick figures and warped view of Milton’s cosmology).

I am particularly taken with his defense of the arts, when a person is in the aesthetic moment of experience. Apply that idea  into the classroom.  So many times, the connection between the arts and student performance differ so much from the student experience in the classroom. Students will not remember a particular English lesson long after high school, but they will remember performing in a play. Yet, the arts are the stepchildren of education…starved for funds and not a priority in scheduling, for teachers or for students.

.The illustration of how divergent thinking diminishes as students go through an educational system is frightening…plus, I never would have imagined a 40′ foam rubber paper clip. Does that mean a kindergartener is a better divergent thinking them me? Probably. I have been in EDUCATION too long!

Memory in Art

Many people find it easy to express their emotions through art. Photographs, paintings, collages. Art allows memories to be expressed purely, without passing any sort of judgement. Someone can look at a painting or photograph and not understand it at all. Art is very difficult to understand from the viewer’s perspective, but as the creator, we know exactly what we see and what we think.

The past is inspiring. Things we have heard of, listened to, watched, can be things that stay with us for the rest of our lives. Art is physical representation of the human memory. And it is perplexing, confusing.

A couple of years ago my mother, grandmother and sister went into New York City for the day. We decided to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). Now, I am someone who may not have the greatest appreciation for art. I am not necessarily ‘good’ at drawing, or inspired to go and paint something…ever. My sister is a person who loves art, who appreciates style, technique, texture, tone. She tries to understand why the artist might have done things a certain way. She is interested in  more than just looking at the art, but understanding the purpose, the memory behind the pieces. I did have a little more admiration and respect for the art in the MET, however MoMA was pretty much a joke to me. I don’t understand how a ball of string tied to a twig can be considered worthy of being in a museum, let alone a piece of artwork in the first place. Give me a few minutes. I’ll go outside, find a twig, grab a ball of string out of my mother’s sewing box. TADA! I made art.

Memory in art allows people to express what is meaningful to them. After that day in the museums, I can’t necessarily say I enjoyed it all too much. I did however, come to an understanding that there are a lot of different types of people out there. What inspires one person might not even cross the mind of another. But these inspirations come from memory. And for me, walking around and looking at those sculptures, paintings, posters, I realized how vast the human memory is. Everything and anything can spark inspiration.

Doris Salcedo, a well-known Colombian sculptor, discusses the role memory plays in the work she creates.


There are a lot of pieces in that video that I didn’t understand. Certain sculptures had no meaning for me. I wouldn’t personally call it ‘art’. But that’s just me. Salcedo’s take on art can be considered a more abstract one, more specific to her life. Other types of art can be understood by more people. For me, I can understand a collage or a painting more easily than a sculpture. The bottom line is, memory is in every piece of art, whether or not we can understand it or not.

African Memory Jug

A photograph of one artist’s “memory lane’

Venice from memory

Memory in art is expressed in infinite ways. Below is a concluding video,  about how memory and history function in art. The “Art in the Twenty-First Century” documentary “Memory” explores these questions through the work of the artists Susan Rothenberg, Mike Kelley, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Josiah McElheny, and concludes with an original video artwork by Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler. It is rather long, so the first couple minutes will suffice.

Memory in Art

So, I Asked “What is the Purpose of English Class?”

The question started innocently enough. An assignment for a class I am taking offered through The Critical Thinking Community required that I integrate one of the elements of reasoning in a lesson. I chose the element of purpose and decided to ask my 9th grade students what was the purpose of reading a non-fiction essay ,”My Mother”, by Amy Tan. Several students dutifully raised their hands.

To know about her mother?”
“It’s a memory?”
“To remember what her mom said?”

Their responses were predictable and did not sound thoughtful; they sounded like they were guessing. I hate playing “Guess What the Teacher Wants to Hear”, so I shifted the question: “What is the purpose of reading an essay?”

Hesitation. Some disconcerted looks. A few timid hands.

“To read?”
“To understand what’s a good essay?”

I must have looked a little frustrated. “Why are you here?” I demanded.

Blank stares.

“Well, what is the purpose of English class? Why are you here?”

Then it hit me. They really had not given a thought as to why they were in English. I mean, they know what English class is, they have been in English every year they have attended school-nine years to date. They looked perplexed.

“Because, we are forced to come,” said Chris.
“Yes, we have to come,” agreed Mike.

They shifted nervously in their seats.

“That’s not purpose. That’s a result of someone else’s purpose,” I replied.

“To learn….(student voice trails off)…English?”

So, I took the cup of popsicle sticks labeled with each student’s name. ”What is the purpose of English Class?” I asked each student after I called out a name. One by one they offered suggestions:

  • “….to learn…how to…write”
  • “…to learn how… to read?”
  • “…to learn about the comma?”
  • “…so we can go to college.”
  • “…to learn what is in a book…characters.”

After each response,  I asked the next student “Do you agree with that reason?” before I asked “What is the purpose of English class?”

As we went around the room, I explained there could be “no repeats“; the responders had to think more critically about what I was asking. Slowly, their responses became more sophisticated. Their responses did not have the sound of a question. They were answering my repeated question as a statement. They began to stir and leaned forward in interest trying to see who could come up with the “answer”.

  • “To learn about how characters are like people”
  • “To experience stories that we cannot really be in”
  • “To read and write about how we are all connected.”
  • “To be able to write so that other people can understand what we are saying and maybe believe what we write.”

They started to raise their hands to adding new ideas to this brainstorming sessions. They wanted to give the correct answer….to stop my interrogation. Honestly,  I did not have an answer. I had no idea where this exercise was going, I was simply letting them critically think about why they came into my class day after day. They were suddenly engaged and eager to answer. At some level, they understood the importance of English class, they just had not thought about the purpose. In defining the purpose, they suddenly understood the purpose of my original question. I went back and asked, “What was the purpose of Amy Tan’s essay?”

  • “She is feeling guilty and she wants to make it up to her mom.”
  • “Her mother was important to her, and now that her mother has dies, she wants to tell others about how they should appreciate their mother.”
  • “Regret is hard, and she is living in regret like so many people who make mistakes when they are young…this is a confession.” 

My spontaneous shift  from asking about an essay to the larger topic  of why they were in English demonstrated how important the element of purpose is  to teaching. My next step will be to have students internalize the question, “What is the purpose of this _______(book, essay, poem, article, assignment, class)?” on their own, every day, semester after semester.

In the courtroom, the saying is “Never ask a question if you don’t know the answer.” But in education, we ask questions as a means to discover the answer. The Critical Thinking Community website states, “We must continually remind ourselves that thinking begins with respect to some content only when questions are generated by both teachers and students. No questions equals no understanding.”

“What’s the purpose of English class?” To get the students thinking. That is the purpose of education.

Warmth

Warmth can be defined as a physical or mental feeling. Physical warmth is when you can feel warmth on the outside from light, the sun, a blanket, body heat, etc. while mental warmth is the warmth that you feel when someone is kind, generous, and loving to you. Mental warmth can be expressed through verbal and/or physical connection. Loving words from someone you have a mental connection with can be comforting and create and experience of warmth within you.

Definition of mental warmth

Definition of mental warmth

Enthusiasm, affection, or kindness.

The definition of physical warmth

The definition of physical warmth

The quality, state, or sensation of being warm; moderate and comfortable heat.

Uncertainty in Life and Fine Arts

Here are some examples of artists, filmakers, writers, who all used uncertainty as the basis for their work.

This movie was released in 2009, and exemplifies the feeling of being uncertain in relation to human emotion.

 

Uncertainty

By: The Fray

 

“Learning the Art of Uncertainty

I teach people how to cultivate awareness of uncertainty in their lives, then how to know the difference between uncertainty and panic, anxiety, stress and worry. From that they learn some simple skills and techniques in applying this newly found capacity to their daily lives. These skills and techniques are designed around your own needs and experiences. In learning how to do this, you are not pushed around by uncertainty, but know how to extract the benefits of uncertainty, whether it be in their work or work-whatever they do, in their personal and inner lives as well. Learning the art of uncertainty can increase your experience of prosperity. You can learn how to take opportunity and energy out of seemingly nothing to improve your lot in life and then learn how to pay it back, for uncertainty requires that which is borrowed , or used must be returned. Uncertainty if understood out of your own experience can be a life- enhancing experience, every day, and in every situation that you find yourself in.”

This, amusingly enough, is a guy who believes he can teach a person how to be uncertain.

 

 

(This was just amusing…)

 

     There is a reason that authors, writers, filmmakers, artists, all use the idea of uncertainty. Humans connect to the feeling of being uncertain. All the time we feel uncertain of the future, of our own feelings, of life in general. We can never make up our minds half the time, and the other half, we just can’t know yet. The future of our world sometimes seems ambiguous as well. With the economy falling, the seasons in reverse order and all the natural disasters occurring, people question the future of the planet itself. It feels as if everything is at a tipping point, and it no one can see what is on the other side of the downfall. Global warming is truly messing with our plant, along with the exponentially increasing population of man. We reached seven billion people estimated on earth. The planet cannot support so many people. Scientists believe that the population will reach its peak at around 2050. But of course, no one knows what happens when it reaches its peak. Some say a big die off will happen naturally, others say there will be so little food that people will just be starving in the streets. Overall, such a future and what could happen with that impending future is extremely uncertain.

    I, personally, am extremely uncertain in my life right now. I am uncertain about my future. I have absolutely no idea where I am going to be in a year or even six months. I have no idea what colleges will accept me, what colleges I will want to go to over others, and what state I will even end up in. But when I see the music, the art, the films that represent uncertainty, I do not feel as alone, as scared of uncertainty. I realize that everyone feels such uncertainty for the future. As corny as it is, such art comforts me and helps me not to fall over in a pure panic attack half the time. Thus overall, uncertainty can be quite common and fearful, but it often can be utilized by artists and filmmakers in order to help bring together human emotions. Because we feel such emotions, we connect better with others.  

~Kelsey

Tolerance Through Intolerance

Sometimes the best way to understand the meaning of a word is to look at the opposite of it and the many opposing terms that may go along with it.  In this video clip from Characters Unite, we are able to see the specific things that certain people will not “stand for”. Not only do they mention intolerance, but they also mention words such as racism and prejudice. Although no one in this film mentions the word “tolerance” , you are able to see that tolerance is everything that is the exact opposite of what is presented in this film.

Tolerance is NOT:

  • racism
  • prejudice
  • discrimination
  • hate

Tolerance IS:

  • love
  • acceptance
  • equality
  • paitence
  • open – mindedness

Insanity? How Hysterically Absurd!

If you read my last post, then you know how hard it is to put a specific definition on the word “insanity.”  If you did not read my last post, then I cannot help but wonder why you skipped to my second.  That’s like watching The Godfather Pt. II before the first one.  It may seem like a timesaver, but then all of a sudden you are left wondering “Who is the Vito Corleone fellow, and what does he have to do with the story?”  But I digress…

Insanity is an interesting word to say the least.  If one were to narrow down the possible uses of it, they would find two big ones. 

The original and primary use of the word is as a medical diagnosis.  In this sense, the word is a general term for psychotic or social conditions of the mind.  “Insane” would, in essence be a broad term, such as “Mental Disorder” or “Physical Condition.”  Synonyms for specific uses of this type of insanity would be neurosis, phobia, psychosis, dementia, etc.

Now more than ever, insanity has become the subject of many a hyperbole.  When someone does something even remotely different, people have a tendency to call them “insane.”  For example –

“You think the Chicago (insert Chicago sports franchise) will win the (insert name of sports tournament)?  You are insane!”

Here synonyms for insanity would include absurdity, craziness, delusion and, in most cases, sheer stupidity.  If you need me to tell you what the antonym of INsanity is, then stop reading right now.  However, since it is required…

IN- is a prefix indicating the opposite or lack of something.  Sanity, meaning “sane” or with common sense and without delusion, would mean the opposite with IN- attached, forming our favorite word, insanity.  Antonyms include wellness, balance, and, of course, sanity.

Need Energy?

Usually, when people talk about energy, they’re complaining that they have a lack of it.  Over 50% of the American population reports not having enough energy, according to a survey by Good Morning America.  So I figured I’d try to find some good tips for people that can help them get more energy, and by looking at what can help you gain energy, you get a better idea of what energy actually is.

So, straight from the Buddhists, here are the first 30 of a series of 55 tips to get more energy:

1. Change your socks for refreshment.

2. Rock out loud.

3. Get rid of the stuffy nose.

4. Work with your body’s clock.

5. Have a piece of chocolate.

6. Have an afternoon power snack.

7. Hit up the water cooler for inconsequential banter.

8. Eat lots of berries.

9. Wear brighter colors.

10. Take a power nap.

11. Flirt.

12. Aromatherapy with lavender.

13. Wake up at the same time everyday.

14. Drink lots of water.

15. Use caffeine wisely.

16. Avoid energy drinks.

17. Eat low glycemic (low or complex carb) foods.

18. Eat more soluble fiber.

19. Get your Vitamin C.

20. Sniff some citrus.

21. Cover the B Vitamins.

22. Quit smoking.

23. Play to relax.

24. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

25. Enjoy a cup of tea.

26. Splash some water on your face.

27. Stand up, stretch and take a couple of deep breaths.

28. Get your world organized.

29. Look on the bright side.

30. Take a mini-vacation.

 

Some of them don’t even seem like they’d help improve energy levels, but they show that energy is directly related to happiness.

 

Now to the scientific part of energy…I won’t even begin to explain it, I’ll  just let Bill Nye do what he does best.

 

Energy’s everywhere. No if, ands, or buts about it.

 

A Message in a Bottle

There is a time when we are no longer in control of our memory. There is a time when we cannot remember who we love, who we are, or the life we’re living. As age increases, memory decreases. There are few times in our lives where we really get to appreciate having a memory. It’s one of those things when you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. Alzheimer’s Disease is a disease that causes someone to lose their memory completely. Alzheimer’s has effected my family on a very personal level, but it has allowed me to see how special the human memory is, and how brilliant we are.

My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease when I was about 10 years old. The first year, he was forgetting where his keys were, where he put his hat, where his golf clubs were. The next year he didn’t have his license, couldn’t play golf as much, stayed home more. When I was 15 years old he passed away, and through those 5 years, I saw a memory get depleted. I was once “Annie”, but in the end, he could no longer put a name to my face. He couldn’t remember who I was or the rest of my family for that matter. It was heartbreaking.

One Thanksgiving, a good 2 or 3 years after he had been diagnosed, he surprised everyone. We were all at the table, and he told a story. There were things that my grandfather would never ever speak of, not even with my grandmother. My grandfather was a Prisoner of War in World War II to the Japanese, and spent time in a prison camp for quite a few years. This was something he could never speak of. He didn’t even like hearing the words. However, on this Thanksgiving night, he began to tell the story. He told us where he was, all the friends he lost, how hungry he was. He could remember the most discrete details. No one moved from the table. I’ll never forget that night.

That night not only showed me a completely new side to my grandfather, who we called Buddy, but it taught me how fascinating the memory was. In the midst of forgetting where his car keys were, and forgetting where he put his golf gloves and clubs, he could sit down, and recall probably the toughest few years of his life like it was yesterday. The human memory just can’t be fully understood. I was floored not only at the story, but the fact that he brought the topic up, and told us one of the most interesting stories I will probably ever hear.

From that point on, memory was given a completely new meaning in my heart. A meaning of admiration and fascination.

Below is a picture that will be used throughout my blog. It is a basic overview of the parts of our brain, identified with one word. Each of the words are tied to memory.