Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Here's Looking at Me

I saw an article in the paper recently about narcissism in our culture and how it is increasing. Narcissus was a vain character from Greek mythology who was quite taken with himself. We seem enamored with ourselves in our culture as well. We hear all the time that we should have what we deserve (based on what?). Advertising often serves to feed our egos and point out how we can enhance our status even further. Reading about narcissism has taught me that people with this trait see themselves as sitting on a throne with their minions circling around them and on the earth mainly to do their bidding. They don't feel any responsibility to anyone else and view the rest of the world chiefly in terms of how it suits them. I suppose this would not create any conflict if there were ony one narcissist in the world and everyone else saw themselves and living only to cater to that person's needs. As it is, there are many people who see others as existing only to do their bidding. A strange world indeed. No wonder there are so many conflicts. It seems hard for many people to learn the lesson that in order to get what you want, the best way is to help others gain what they want. Then they are more prone to take an interest in your needs.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Reminiscences of Childhood

I talked with my brother today and got into discussing some of the old times. We got to wondering why we did some of the things we did and why we didn't do some of the things we would have liked to do. I seemed to forget that we acted in terms of what we know and thought at the time. He reminded me that we did what we thought best at the time and did not know then what we know now. I would have liked to do some things different as a child and a teenager but I did not have the awareness to know what the alternatives were. When it came right down to it, the alternatives I have available now just were not known to me then. We can speculate on what might have been but what happened took place because of the context in which we lived at the time.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Military or Peace Bases

I was reading recently about opposition to expanding our military bases in Italy. I thought about this and realized that we have military bases all over the world. Although some people are comforted by them, others find them threatening and fear our power. I began to wonder what would happen if we had peace bases instead of or in addition to military bases. They could be models of cooperation and caring for each other. While our country has a strong bellicose history, we also have experience helping other people. Our peace bases could be places where we listened to and learned to understand others. We might also learn something about ourselves and stress compromise rather than imposing our will on others. "People say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Relative Merits of Routine

I read an article in the paper this morning about the benefits of routine. People talked about the comfort of starting each day with the same routine and the feeling of comfort and relaxation which accompanied it. I remember when I was younger that what I wished to avoid most was routine and the boredom I was sure would accompany it. I thought that routine stifled creativity and kept me in a rut. Although I still like excitement, I do not crave it as much as I once did. I have also discovered that a morning routine gets me in the mood to be creative and no longer leads to a feeling of boredom. I think I have learned to balance excitement and routine.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Using the Palmer Method

I was writing my journal entry this morning when out of the blue I recalled the Palmer Method I learned in fourth grade for cursive writing. It was a traumatic time. I was raised in the age when steel nib pens were in use in my school (1951). We had to dip the pen in the ink and then write on the page until the nib was dry. Not so bad for right handers whose ink had a chance to dry before they wrote the next line. We unfortunate left handers had to push the pen across the page where it caught in the paper, making a blot which, along with what we were trying to write, was quickly smudged by our left hands closely following the pen point. My teacher, in the wisdom of the day, thought I should learn to write with my right hand. I tried it with the result that at the end of the experiment I could not write very well with either hand. I learned to print my letters to avoid the smudging. This worked better but did not afford me great marks in penmanship. I tried using the Palmer Method this morning and found my writing halting. I had to stop and think how to make certain letters, especially a capital A, which I finally had to look up. The experiment this morning forced me to think about my writing. I am not sure it helped me avoid distractions or created a new one. Anyway, it was a nostalgic visit to my fourth grade days and Sister Clement.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Gustatory Delights

After my post yesterday on the joys of smell, I thought it only fair that I gave some recognition to the sense of taste. This is another of those shortchanged if not entirely overlooked source of sensory information. I find it interesting that the mere memory of a taste can start the digestive juices flowing as easily as the taste itself. We have four taste receptors in our tongues-sweet, bitter, sour, salty. Whoa! I just looked to be sure I had this right and discovered that there is a new taste classification whose acquaintance I have never made, the umami variety which senses certain salts like MSG. I wonder how long that has been lurking in the collective consciousness of the internet. Learning through taste is usually reserved for foods. We do taste other things sometimes by accident. I suppose we could learn something about each other by tasting although that doesn't usually happen until we are on a quite intimate basis. Please enjoy you umami taste receptors at your discretion.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Olfactory Delights

I was reading recently about how to make fiction come to life. Use of the senses was suggested. We tend to use visual and sometimes auditory sense reference in writing. I realized that I at least seldom make reference to the more primitive senses such as smell. The author of the book I was reading pointed out that we live in a sanitized society with strong smells covered up. I thought back to the first night I spent in Hawaii when I could smell the beauty around me but not see it since I arrived after dark. I recalled the smells in my favorite deli while waiting for a sub. I remember the smell of my children as babies just out of the bath tub. I remember the chocolate smelling orchid and of course vanilla on the vine. It is hard to describe odors but they sure are powerful in our memories.